Greece needs to act fast

Athens, October 25

The European commissioner for the euro told Athens it has ‘no time to lose’ in carrying out reforms its international creditors have demanded in exchange for bailout funds, in an interview published today.

“The immediate priority is to apply the (reform) programme and (to ensure) the success of the first evaluation,” Valdis Dombrovskis said in remarks published in Greece’s To Vima newspaper a day before his scheduled arrival in the debt-ridden country.

Greece ‘has no time to lose’, he said after a dispute over home foreclosures arose between the government and representatives of the European Union-International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors visiting Athens. Under a deal reached in July, Athens agreed to more public spending cuts in return for a three-year, 86 billion euro EU bailout — its third since 2010 — which prevented it crashing out of the eurozone.

Short of cash, Greece was given in August a first tranche of 13 billion euros to help it meet payments owed to the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Dombrovskis, who is seen as a hawk on Greece’s struggle to overcome its debt crisis, is expected on Monday in Athens, where he will hold talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Economy Minister George Stathakis.

Tsipras on Friday lashed out against creditor demands over home foreclosures, branding the measures sought as ‘absurd and extreme neo-liberal interventions’. A daunting overhaul of country’s struggling pensions system is expected next month.

The creditors’ visit, which began last Wednesday, was the first since Tsipras returned to power after a snap vote on September 20.