Greece and troika strike deal to release €10bn in aid

PM Antonis Samaras says one beneficiary of deal with EU, ECB and IMF will be poorest 1 million Greeks, who will share €500m

After seven months of gruelling negotiations, Greece has finally struck a deal with its troika of creditors to release more than €10bn in aid, prime minister Antonis Samaras has announced.

After marathon talks that in recent weeks have rarely ended before dawn, the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund agreed to release the money, much of which has been outstanding since September.

Samaras announced the agreement on Tuesday as he visited the finance ministry where it was formally signed. But in a move understood not to please the troika, he also said €500m would be distributed to the poorest members of Greek society.

Samaras told reporters: “The long negotiations with the troika have been successfully concluded. When others doubted the economy’s achievements or even tried to thwart them, this government, united, went on [with the business of] seriously pursuing its mission, to get the country out of the crisis.”

Listing what he described as the 21-month-old government’s achievements to date – preventing Greece’s exit from the eurozone, ending the country’s prolonged recession and attaining a primary budget surplus “earlier than the [financial assistance programme] foresaw” – Samaras said the time had come when austerity-hit Greeks could finally take back what they had lost.

With a primary budget surplus – ie, before debt interest payments – to be formally announced by the Greek statistics agency in April, he pledged that his administration would now act on its promise to help those most affected by the crisis.

“With great satisfaction I can announce that more than €500m will immediately be given to over a million Greeks on the basis of income and property criteria. That is to say to the poorest, to those who have suffered the most, to those who are most in need and of course to those in uniform whose monthly salary is less than €1,500. Just as we had promised.”

But the troika has made clear that it wants the extra cash to be used for growth and development.

The policies are expected to be included in an omnibus bill to be put to the parliament in the coming days. MPs are already digging in their heels.

“We can expect a little bit of Greek drama in the next week,” said veteran commentator Giorgos Kyrtsos.

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