EU holding back on Greek bailout

July 24, 2013 at 4:06 PM
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ATHENS, Greece, July 24 (UPI) -- The European Union said Wednesday it would delay a vote for two days on whether or not to release the next tranche of international aid to Greece.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the Greek Parliament had one last financial target to reach out of 22 fiscal mandates.

The Wall Street Journal reported Greek Finance Ministry officials said they were not worried, as the last financial target was within reach.

That would allow the European Union to release $5.3 billion, just a portion of the $228.2 billion bailout package that is being doled out in small increments, as the international community presses Greece to reduce its debt burden.

Greek finance officials said a vote in Parliament that will place up to 2,000 teachers into a designated labor pool will take place Thursday and will secure the next loan disbursement.

Lawmakers in Athens have had to deal with public outrage over a long series of spending cuts and tax hikes that have been mandated by the so-called troika -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

With the country in a prolonged recession, unemployment has soared, which puts a strain on public services and reduces tax revenues at the same time.

Despite stiff austerity measures, Greece's debt as a percentage of its gross domestic product has only gotten worse. Government debt was at 161 percent of the GDP at the end of the first quarter. It is higher than that at this point, the Journal said.

Dijsselbloem said finance ministers in the European Union's Eurogroup would vote on the aid package Friday. Greek officials said the vote on teachers would take place Thursday.

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