By N. Bellos
Three pending "prior actions" are reportedly stalling the disbursement of 5.7 billion euros in bailout money to Greece by European creditors, with a scheduled Eurogroup meeting on Monday expected to decide on when the loan tranche will flow into Greek state coffers.
The most prominent of the three "prior actions" remaining to be implemented is the full application of electronic auctions of foreclosed property in the country, given that traditional court-held auctions are being conducted at a snail's pace.
Nevertheless, one top Eurozone source this week still emphasized that progress in implementing bailout program demands has been made since the last Eurogroup meeting on Jan. 22, where the third review of the ongoing program was essentially concluded. The same source said "technical issues" have so far prevented implementation of the three "prior actions".
Beyond the burning issue of electronic auctions, Athens must accelerate efforts to privatize the natural gas transmission operator, DES.FA, and to finally overcome drawn-out and recurring bureaucratic obstacle blocking the iconic Helleniko privatization in coastal southeast Athens. The problem DES.FA and Helleniko, however, is that progress depends on other factors as well, and not only on the leftist-rightist coalition government.
As far as electronic auctions are concerned, this issue is considered pivotal by European creditors, as it is linked a standing effort to simplify and speed up Greece's creaky judicial system and reducing the massive "bad debt" held by the country's systemic banks.