Greece bailout: Eurozone calls for tighter oversight

Greece bailoutThe eurozone requires much tighter oversight of Greece’s finances, the head of the Eurogroup has said.

Jean-Claude Juncker said greater surveillance was needed, despite hailing “substantial progress” made by Athens on austerity measures.A deal on Greece’s next bailout package is expected to be finalised on Monday.Meanwhile, the Greek president said he did not accept his country being “taunted” by Berlin, in response to remarks by the German finance minister.The comments come amid rising tensions between Greece and Germany, where public opinion is considered hostile to bailing Athens out.

Athens hopes for a 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout from the EU and IMF.Greece faces a looming deadline in mid-March when it needs to make repayments on a 14.5bn euro bond, or face bankruptcy.Speaking after a conference call between the 17 eurozone finance ministers on Wednesday, Mr Juncker said Greece had made “substantial progress” in making its case for fresh bailout funds.However, he said a final decision was unlikely before Monday.

Mr Juncker said more work was needed to strengthen oversight of how Greece would implement its austerity plans.The BBC’s Chris Morris in Brussels says the call reflects scepticism that Greece is willing or able to deliver on its promises of reform.The “troika” of institutional lenders – the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) – had been demanding that Greece identify 325m euros of further spending cuts.

Mr Juncker said work on this had been carried out, including a timetable for implementation.he ministers also insisted that the major Greek political parties promise in writing to implement the cuts, regardless of who wins a general election scheduled for April.Leaders of the two main parties have now signed letters committing them to enacting the changes.Meanwhile, President Karolos Papoulias hit out at German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose comments during the talks stirred anger in Greece.”I do not accept having my country taunted by Mr Schaeuble, as a Greek I do not accept it,” Mr Papoulias said.Earlier, Mr Schaeuble earlier said: “We can help but we are not going to pour money into a bottomless pit.” – BBC