Greece wants 1.2 billion euros back from EU bailout fund: source


Athens (AFP) - Cash-strapped Greece wants the European Union's rescue fund to return 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) unduly handed over by Athens, a source with knowledge of the issue said Tuesday.

"Eurogroup President (Jeroen) Dijsselbloem has asked the EFSF to provide an analysis of the matter. Also, he has asked the chairman of the Eurogroup Working Group to take the issue up at short notice," a spokesperson of the European Financial Stability Facility told AFP.

Greece's new radical government last month was obliged to return to the EFSF 10.9 billion euros that remained unused in a rescue fund created for the recapitalisation of Greek banks.

However, the new hard-left leaders later realised that the previous conservative-socialist government had used 1.2 billion euros to support the banks from another source, the Hellenic stability fund.

Though relatively small, the sum is currently vital to the new government.

Greece is facing a cash squeeze caused by the non-delivery of EU-IMF loans since the radical government came to power in January promising to roll back austerity reforms.

Also on Tuesday, the finance ministry said tax takings in the first two months of the year were 972 million euros, or 13 percent, below target.

Speaking to Dutch station RTL Z, Dijsselbloem said that for the time being Greece was "still able to finance itself".

Greece's creditors have made it clear that no funds remaining in the 240-billion-euro ($260 billion) bailout will be disbursed until Athens presents a credible reform blueprint.

Dijsselbloem said that technical talks between Athens and its creditors were "flowing once again" but that many details remained to be worked out.

"As soon as we have an accord ... we'll be able to help with emergency loans again in the coming months," he said.

The EFSF was created in 2010 to provide financial assistance to Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

It was later replaced by the permanent European Stability Mechanism.

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