Greece's creditors flying in for bailout talks

ATHENS • Greece's creditors will fly to Athens soon to launch talks on a huge bailout for the debt-crippled country, officials said yesterday, hours after the nation's lawmakers agreed to a second batch of reforms in Parliament.

Greece's Finance Ministry said negotiators from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, with whom it is discussing plans for a third bailout worth up to €86 billion (S$128 billion), were likely to fly in today.

Last week, Greece and its creditors struck a bailout-for-reforms deal aimed at preventing Athens from crashing out of the euro zone, as it struggles to pay its debts.

Greek lawmakers voted 230 to 63 in favour of the Bill, which will simplify court decisions and transpose European rules on failing banks. Thirty-six lawmakers from the governing party, Syriza, deserted the ballot. That compared with 39 rebels when the first package was approved last week.

The measures taken by Greece satisfied the terms required by the nation's creditors, said a European Commission (EC) spokesman.

Greece has to pay about €3.2 billion to the ECB on Aug 20. Passage of the laws had paved the way for the "Troika" of institutions to return to Athens to negotiate terms for as much as €86 billion in aid.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who echoed the rhetoric of the predecessors he once accused of betraying their country, said he will implement the programme even though he thinks the policies being imposed are wrong.

The EC is studying the possibility of another bridge loan to Greece as a means to avoid a default if the third bailout cannot be arranged in time, said a Greek government official, who asked not to be named.

Meanwhile, a decision on when and under what conditions Greek financial markets will reopen was deferred to next week, which leaves them shut at least through Monday, a government official told reporters yesterday.

The Athens Stock Exchange, multilateral trading facility and electronic secondary market for bonds have been closed since June 29.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2015, with the headline 'Greece's creditors flying in for bailout talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe