• Greece readies reforms to keep bailout alive


    ATHENS: Greece raced Sunday to finalize reform proposals that would keep its loan lifeline open under an EU debt deal that saw its anti-austerity ambitions curtailed.

    The new hard-left government in Athens has until Monday to convince its skeptical European creditors that it can piece together a credible set of alternative fiscal reforms.

    A top government official on Sunday said Athens would submit proposals that will take the struggling Greek economy “out of sedation.”

    “We are compiling a list of measures to make the Greek civil service more effective and to combat tax evasion,” minister of state Nikos Pappas told Mega channel.

    Greece’s hard-left government is walking a tightrope between its commitments to European creditors and its electoral pledges to end austerity in the country struggling to recover from severe economic crisis.

    Europe on Friday gave Greece until Monday to present credible proposals that would convince its creditors to grant a four-month extension of its debt bailout. A new reform deal would then be negotiated during that time period.

    Pappas on Sunday said the talks would be “a daily battle . . . every centimeter of ground must be won with effort.”

    While many said Athens had capitulated to European demands in the deal on the four-month extension, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisted Saturday Greece had achieved an “important negotiating success” which “cancels out austerity.”

    In a televised address, Tsipras said his government had foiled a plan by “blind conservative forces” in Greece and abroad to bankrupt the country at the end of the month, when its European bailout had been scheduled to expire.

    But while fears of a disastrous Greek exit from the eurozone receded, the 40-year-old premier warned that the “real difficulties” lie ahead. He said his government would now focus on negotiating a new reform blueprint with Greece’s creditors by June.

    The government which came to power last month pledging to end deeply unpopular austerity measures and renegotiate Greece’s huge debt had asked for a six-month loan assistance until it can submit its four-year reform plans.



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