The Greek government’s coffers are running dry, but finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has good news — he thinks a bailout deal with the country’s international creditors is imminent.
In a televised interview on Monday night, when pressed to give a time schedule for the deal, Varoufakis said “let’s say a week.” You can check out a full translation and video of the discussions here at enikos.gr.
That follows yesterday’s leak to Greece’s To Vima newspaper which suggested that the European Commission had offered Greece a pretty generous compromise deal. The Commission denied that such a deal had been offered.
The conditions reported as those of the Commission seemed less stringent than some which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Eurogroup (other eurozone finance ministers) would have liked — for example, only reviews into Greece’s pension system and labour market were promised, rather than concrete reforms. The reported deal would have unlocked a much-needed €5 billion (£3.61 billion, $US5.65 billion) for the Greek state.
In fact, the latest reports from the IMF suggest that a deal is significantly further than a week away. The Fund still lists pensions and labour market reforms as sticking points in a deal.
It’s clear not everyone is happy with the idea of a deal along the lines suggested. The Greek Analyst also reports that a rally will be held on Tuesday against the signing of an agreement, with speakers from the left of Syriza, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ own party. Here’s what they’re saying (translation from The Greek Analyst):
We need to choose between the signing of the looming austerity agreement and the rupture with the lenders. SYRIZA cannot be turned into a party of austerity; neither can the government implement the Memorandum. This is the reason why, both domestically and abroad, proposals for the internal “cleansing” of SYRIZA and governmental solutions for “national unity” are put on the table.
Without a deal, Greece is heading towards a crunch, and soon. Athens was forced to use a reserve account at the IMF to make its last payment to the international lender, and disbursements twice as large are due from early to mid-June.
To add to that, Greece has pension and salary payments to make at the end of the month — whose recipients will likely be hoping that Yanis Varoufakis’ optimistic timetable is accurate.