Athens urged to speed up reforms to get rescue loans from EU

© Yannis Behrakis
Eurozone finance ministers have called on the Greek government to act faster on its economic reforms so the country can get a new tranche of bailout cash before the end of October.

During the Friday meeting in Bratislava in Slovakia, the European officials expressed concern Athens is falling behind schedule in its efforts to reform the economy. The ministers, however, added that Greece still had enough time to meet the September 15 deadline to get bailout funds unlocked.

Greece is expected to fulfill 15 reforms this month, including privatization plans and energy sector changes, to get €2.8 billion from its bailout program. So far, the country has managed to implement only two out of 15 reforms agreed with its international creditors.

Greece still could complete its work, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters.

"It's not new that, with Greece, we see the implementation of the measures that have been agreed towards the final phase of the agreed time frame," he said.

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said “more progress is needed and we strongly encourage the Greek government as a whole to speed up the implementation of the remaining milestones."

Under the terms of the bailout deal signed in 2015, the international lenders including the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the eurozone are to provide €86 billion in aid to Greece by 2018 in return for unpopular austerity measures in the country.

The reforms include tax hikes, pension cuts, as well as the privatization of public assets. Greece is obliged to bring in a primary budget surplus of 3.5 percent of GDP by 2018.

The Greek government has made some progress in reshaping the country’s economy over the past six years but it’s still encumbered by a heavy debt burden which is more than 175 percent of national income.