Greece 'underestimates complexity' of reforms: Dijsselbloem

9th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem tapped down Greek optimism Tuesday over a newly-submitted reform plan, saying that Athens has "underestimated the complexity" of steps needed to rescue the cash-strapped country.

"I've heard a lot of optimism from the Greeks' side," Dijsselbloem told Dutch television channel RTL Z during his weekly talk.

"It's an underestimation of the complexity of what is being required from them, to bring the (Greek) budget back in line and get the economy back on track," said Dijsselbloem, who admitted he has not yet seen the new proposals.

Greece submitted a promised reform plan to its EU-IMF creditors Tuesday, a day before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to discuss how to end Athens's debt crisis with the French and German leaders, European sources said.

Creditors "are now in the process of studying" the list of "counter-proposals", which arrived two days after European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker complained Tsipras had not fulfilled a pledge made at a meeting last week to send Brussels the plans, one source told AFP.

One major Greek proposal was an idea, first floated by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, for debt held by the European Central Bank to be transferred to the eurozone's crisis-fighting fund, the European Stability Mechanism, which is widely seen as softer, another source said.

The move would effectively delay two huge payments owed by Greece to the ECB this summer, allowing nearly-broke Athens urgently needed breathing space.

Dijsselbloem said he will now study the new proposals.

"If it's serious, then we can proceed," he said.

He warned however that no country can be asked to contribute more funds and any deal will "have to take place within the means at our disposal and agreements made."

Greece's five-year debt crisis surged back as an international concern in January after Tsipras's radical Syriza party won elections on a vow to end painful austerity measures made as part of the country's 240-billion-euro bailout since 2010.

The Syriza-led government has since been locked in a four-month standoff with its dissatisfied creditors. Greece has offered reforms on pensions, VAT and the country's primary surplus, but has also demanded debt relief and insisted on its own social programmes.

© 2015 AFP

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