Greece awaits verdict on third bailout deal

Greece desperately needs swift approval by eurozone officials to unlock mutli-billion euros in emergency funding as debt obligations loom

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Euro zone finance ministers will meet in Brussels at 3 p.m (1300 GMT) on Friday to discuss Greece's third bailout package, a spokesman for Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.

Greece's government submitted a bill outlining a three-year bailout program to parliament on Wednesday, pushing for quick approval that would pave the way for rapid disbursement of aid.

Athens a day earlier agreed with international lenders on the terms of about 85 billion euros in fresh aid to stay financially afloat and remain in the euro zone. It is the third bailout for the indebted nation since 2010.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asked parliament to expedite approval of the agreement so committees can discuss it before a vote expected on Thursday evening.

That, in turn, would allow euro zone ministers meeting on Friday to sign off on the deal and pave the way for aid to be disbursed before a 3.2 billion euro debt repayment falls due on Aug. 20.

But in a sign of dissent within Tsipras's ruling left-wing Syriza, parliamentary speaker and vocal anti-bailout campaigner Zoe Constantopoulou called a meeting of party representatives for Wednesday night, effectively delaying part of the approval process in committees.

The bill is still anticipated to go to a plenary session and vote on Thursday evening, parliamentary officials said, meaning the original timeline will not derailed.

"The government wants it to be approved before Friday's Eurogroup meeting," a parliamentary official told Reuters, referring to the meeting of euro zone finance ministers. "That is the effort."

The legislation covers tax and pension reform, public administration reform, the relaunch of a privatization scheme which stalled earlier in the year and the establishment of a wealth fund for privatization projects which will be supervised by European institutions.

According to the 29-page memorandum of understanding Greece agreed with creditors, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, Greek must move to rapidly privatize its ports, regional airports and its power grid operator.