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Greece may seal the deal by August 20

Reuters/Athens
Filed on July 22, 2015 | Last updated on July 22, 2015 at 08.26 am
Greece may seal the deal by August 20
A shop in central Athens on Tuesday. Greeks are hoping that talks between Athens and its international creditors will go smoothly - and finally turn around their dwindling fortunes.

(Reuters)

The fact that the measures were not included in the bill aroused some media speculation that Athens was backtracking on reform commitments.


Greece should wrap up bailout talks with international lenders by August 20, once parliament approves the second package of measures demanded by creditors today, the government's spokeswoman said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced a revolt in the ruling Syriza party over the mix of tax hikes and spending cuts demanded by lenders but is expected to get the package through parliament with the support of pro-European opposition parties.

But he said last week he aimed to seal the bailout accord, which could offer Greece up to ?86 billion in new loans to bolster its tottering finances and ward off the threat of being forced out of the euro.

"Immediately after the vote of the prior actions, negotiations with the lenders will start, with August 20th being the final date," government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said in a statement.

Officials from the creditor institutions, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are due in Athens on Friday for meetings with the government, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said.

Pensions, tax on farmers

Earlier on Tuesday, the government tabled the second bailout bill, which will focus on justice reform and banking issues. However it will not include pension reforms curbing early retirement or increasing tax rates paid by farmers from 13 per cent to a range of 26-33 per cent - an issue strongly opposed by the conservative New Democracy party.

Instead, they will be dealt with in coming weeks under a full bailout deal with European partners.

The fact that the measures were not included in the bill aroused some media speculation that Athens was backtracking on reform commitments.

However, Deputy Agriculture Minister Vangelis Apostolou said legislation would be passed in August or September or even later, depending on discussions with the lenders. Officials from the government and the lenders say neither early retirement reforms or tax increases for farmers were required to be included in the two packages of legislation to be passed by July 15 and July 22.

The bill to be passed today adopts into Greek law new European Union rules on propping up failed banks, decreed after the 2008 financial crisis and aimed at shielding taxpayers from the risk of having to bail out troubled lenders.

The so-called bank recovery and resolution directive imposes losses on shareholders and creditors of ailing lenders, in a process known as "bail-in", before any taxpayers' money can be tapped in a bank rescue. - Reuters





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