Greece’s finance chief is predicting the country will reach an agreement with its international lenders by Monday to release another segment of bailout funds so Athens can meet its financial obligations.
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said Wednesday that “fairly large” differences remain between Greece and the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund over the terms of Greece’s $17 billion austerity plan to cut government spending.
But Stournaras said he expects a compromise will be reached in time for a meeting Monday of finance ministers from the 17-nation euro currency bloc. Greece’s international creditors have been demanding that Athens adopt the new austerity plan before it will agree to hand the country another $40 billion in bailout aid.
The negotiations have lasted several weeks, with the lenders wary that the promised spending cuts will put Greece on a successful economic path. The austerity measures have sparked frequent street protests, some of them violent, by Greeks angered at the lenders’ demands and the country’s beleaguered economy.
Even as Greece’s debt crisis remains unresolved and the country heads to a sixth year of recession in 2013, Athens announced plans to invest in the construction of a Formula One race track.
The government said it will spend more than $37 million on the project, about a third of the cost of building the track it hopes will attract Grand Prix races. Officials said the track would boost tourism and create jobs.
Greek leaders have debated the project, set for a site on the Peloponnese peninsula, for years, facing opposition from local residents and environmentalists. The government said it also is investing in a solar panel factory and renovation of a luxury hotel on the island of Crete.
(Illustration: Przemyslaw ‘env1ro’ Szczepanski)