Greece’s financial crisis again fell into uncertainty as its European creditors rejected a set of proposed reforms, saying the debt-ridden country was falling well short of promises it made two weeks ago. Greece’s finance minister had earlier threatened to hold a referendum if its newest measures were rejected.
Greece had proposed a set of reforms to its European creditors in order to qualify for a 7.2 billion euro ($7.8 billion) tranche of aid which is part of the 240 billion euro bailout program agreed upon with the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund.
Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Sunday that Greece’s proposed measures that it floated to Eurogroup finance ministers is incomplete, Bloomberg reported. He added that the country would probably not receive an aid disbursement this month.
Dijsselbloem had earlier said he had reacted "positively" to the letter, sent by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Friday, outlining seven proposed reforms including hiring amateur tax sleuths, streamlining government bureaucracy, and raising revenue from online gambling, Agence France-Presse reported.
In an interview with an Italian newspaper, Varoufakis had earlier claimed that “there could be problems” if the new set of reforms were not accepted.
"We can go back to elections. Call a referendum," he told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, according to news blog Keep Talking Greece. "But, as my prime minister told me, we are not glued to our seats yet."
He also rejected the suggestion that Greece was hoping to secure a new loan, saying the country would "not return to the mechanism of loans in exchange for a programme to be respected."
The Italian paper reportedly included an editor’s note suggesting that Varoufakis meant a referendum on Greek membership in the Eurogroup, a suggestion which Greek government sources later slammed. “In recent days we have been watching efforts to degrade Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. Whether with ironic comments or with false or inaccurate news. Statements that were never made or by adding 'clarifications' that completely changed the meaning of the responses, as was done with this interview of the minister in the newspaper Corriere della Sera,” an anonymous source said, Keep Talking Greece reported.
Greece’s far-left Syriza party has spoken out strongly against the terms imposed on them by European creditors, with growing dissent within the party as far-left hardliners called for rejecting austerity measures that creditors have said will be necessary, including restarting the country’s privatization process. “The country is at war with lenders,” Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis warned, The Guardian reported. “Every month the leash is getting tighter for us. But we are not going to proceed in this war like happy scouts ready to follow bailout policies.”
The widespread popularity that Syriza enjoyed is also starting to fade, with a survey in the Efimerida Ton Syntakton newspaper showing that the government's approval had slid to 64 percent from 84 percent in February, Bloomberg reported. The party also saw its first anti-government demonstrations in late February, which erupted into street violence in Athens, BBC reported.
Without access to capital markets, Greece is increasingly reliant on the emergency bailout funds in order to keep its ailing economy solvent. “I can only say that we have money to pay salaries and pensions of public employees,” Varoufakis told Corriere della Sera. “For the rest we will see.”
“It seems their money box is almost empty,” Dijsselbloem told reporters Sunday.