Parliament in agreement over Greek bailout: Malta wants its €188 million back

Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil reiterate Malta to insist on being repaid €188 million forked out as contribution to Greece’s bailout

The government and opposition are in agreement that Malta will not give in to any requests to re-dimension the Greek bailout, insisting that Greece must pay back Maltese taxpayers some €188 million.

Parliament this evening discussed Monday’s Eurogroup meeting which was cut short after Greece described an opening EU bailout offer as “absurd” and “unacceptable”. However, according to PN leader Simon Busuttil, it was Greece who was being “absurd”.

“It is unacceptable for a government to promise everything to everyone and expects other member states to foot the bill,” he said, urging Prime Minister Joseph Muscat not to give in to any requests not to re-dimension debt owed.

The €188 million Malta forked out is equivalent to 2.4% of its GDP. The maturity date and the interest rates were twice adjusted by parliament to offer some leeway to ease Greece's debt burden.

Muscat confirmed that Malta would continue insisting for Greece to honour its bailout commitments but was ready to be flexible on other issues, such as extending the debt repayment period.

“Changing the amount is not an option,” he said.

Muscat said being flexible meant that if Greece wanted to increase pensions or the minimum wage, the EU should not object as long as the money would come from somewhere: “If Greece wants to increase pensions it should cut spending from elsewhere; if it wants to increase minimum wage then it should tax high income earners. The bottom line is that Greece must settle its debts.”

The Prime Minister explained that Greece had a number of pending measures yet to be implemented as part of its bailout programme. Greece would receive some €7 billion once these measures are implemented. If the current programme is not extended beyond February, Greece would not be in a position to receive further financial assistance from this programme.

The Greek government had pledged to review the economic adjustment programme which expires this month. Greece’s economic and financial situation is still in dire state while tax income dropped substantially during the electoral campaign. Greece’s interest rates on debt remain high while depositors have started withdrawing their deposits from the Greek banks.

Greece's government, led by the radical left-wing Syriza party, has said that the conditions of the €240bn bailout have made Greece penniless. The new government rejects the "troika" team - the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) - overseeing the bailout's implementation.
The IMF and the EU say there should be no change to the conditions of the €240bn loan.
Greece's current bailout expires on 28 February and any new agreement would need to be approved by national governments.
Alexis Tsipras’s anti-austerity government wants to ditch part of the bailout and is asking for temporary funding until it can introduce a new four-year reform plan.