(Bloomberg) — Euro-area finance ministers said Greece must move faster to meet its rescue commitments in order to unlock more bailout funds, as the country risks running out of cash.
“We have to stop wasting time,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the finance ministers’ group. “We’ve lost over two weeks — in which very little progress has been made. The real talks haven’t started yet. There has been no implementation.”
As Greek officials struggle to meet the euro area’s demands, the government’s cash supplies are running low. One official from the currency bloc, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on Monday that Greece’s funding might last for one, two or three weeks, though it was difficult to be precise.
The European Central Bank is also raising the pressure on the government in Athens. ECB officials will increase the scrutiny on the Emergency Liquidity Assistance extended to Greek lenders with an extraordinary review this week, two officials familiar with the matter said.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has until June to reach a broader agreement with the euro-area on further support for his country. While the negotiations continue, the ECB is effectively financing the Greek private sector because of its support for its banks.
The ECB has no reason to stop providing emergency aid as long as the Greek banks are solvent and well capitalized, ECB President Mario Draghi said last week.
At the same time, while Greece remains unlikely to regain market access soon, the ECB probably won’t allow its banks to post more T-bills as collateral because that would effectively be monetary financing, the euro-area official said. Monetary financing is banned under European law.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that while Greece isn’t the main focus of Monday’s meetings — which also will discuss national budget plans — Greece must work with the euro-area institutions and not on its own.
“The Greeks must implement now what they promised to do and must especially refrain from taking one-sided measures,” Schaeuble told reporters.
Greece is willing to augment the list of reforms it has submitted so far by adding additional measures, a Greek government official said today by e-mail. The official said Greece seeks political progress in today’s meeting and would be working directly with the creditors’ expert delegation on some of the possible extra measures.
It’s time to move to “a technical level” of discussions between Greek authorities and the institutions overseeing Greece’s bailout, Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan told reporters.
“We have our red lines, as we said previously: we don’t even want talk of a Greek exit to be on the menu of solutions and we don’t want writedowns,” Noonan said, “Excluding those two issues, we’re quite prepared to be involved in discussions that work towards a solution.”
Greece won a four-month extension of its rescue agreements last month, giving Tsipras some breathing room to hold talks with the rest of the 19-nation bloc. Dijsselbloem said negotiations have gone backward since then as Greece hasn’t offered the detailed measures that are needed.
The Greek ASE stock index lost 4.2 percent in Athens, dropping to its lowest level in more than three weeks, with Piraeus Bank SA down more than 12 percent. Greek three-year yields rose 179 basis points, or 1.79 percentage points, to 15.83 percent at 4:07 p.m. London time.