World Bulletin / News Desk
Last minute progress is seen in the Greek bailout talks, as EU officials and institutional creditors welcomed new proposals from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
With the Greek government at the edge of plunging into default, Tsipras made new offers for economic reforms that creditors, for the first time since talks started, have received with enthusiasm.
The euro rose to nearly 1.14 against the dollar in early trading on Monday, in expectation of progress in the talks.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker remarked that the new proposals enabled a "forceps delivery" of an agreement between the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the EU, and the Eurogroup of ministers from the 19 Member States in the eurozone. Junckers compared completing the agreement with a doctor's delivering a baby by pulling it out with forceps, a strenuous birth.
Late on Sunday, Tsipras' office issued a statement saying: "The prime minister presented the three leaders Greece's proposal for a mutually beneficial agreement that will give a definitive solution and not a postponement of addressing the problem,"
No details of the new proposals have emerged, but they would have to address at least some of the previous sticking points, including pension reform, value-added tax, labor law reform, and the fraught question of debt relief for the country, which must come up with about $2 billion in payments to the IMF by the end of June.
Tsipras will meet Juncker, ECB President Mario Draghi and IMF head Christine Lagarde on Monday morning in Brussels before the Eurogroup meeting in the afternoon.
Progress was also made with the ECB's increasing the amount of emergency loans it Greece. The lending level was raised by €1.8 billion ($2.04 billion), the bank said in a statement on Friday's increase of €1.1 billion ($1.25 billion). Greeks have been pulling about $1 billion per day from their bank accounts as fears of crisis rise in the country.
Businesspeople in Greece were somewhat reassured, as a large number do not wish the country to leave the euro. There was a demonstration to keep the country in the euro on Friday that attracted nearly 10,000 people.
Artemis Giavasoglou an architect that owns a construction/real estate office in Athens commented: “As an architect having my own business based in Athens I am terrified of the possibility of Greece leaving the euro.
In the past years our business sector has gone from bad to worse, with the instability of Greek economy, tax legislation and no clear future, the real estate market was dead."
We thought that the worst was over in 2014, Glavasoglou complained. "Unfortunately we were wrong. Now, everyone tries to do business abroad."
" I think that returning to drachma will be the end of our business," he added.
Mirela Kolitsida, who runs a family a shipping company (Global Marine Services Inc.) since 1974 said:
“If Greece were was to leave the euro it would of course shrink the country’s economy."
These comments echo a report from the Bank of Greece last week which warned of recession and crisis were Greece to default on its obligations and leave the euro.