Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eurozone finance ministers have approved reform proposals submitted by Greece as a condition for extending its bailout by four months, officials say.  The Eurogroup said it had agreed to begin national procedures - parliamentary votes in several states to give the deal final approval.   The measures proposed by Greece include combating tax evasion and tackling the smuggling of fuel and tobacco.  The European Commission said earlier they were a "valid starting point".   Eurozone finance ministers - known as the Eurogroup - then held a conference call before giving their backing to the Greek proposals.  "We call on the Greek authorities to further develop and broaden the list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, in close co-ordination with the institutions," the Eurogroup said in a statement.  The agreement had "averted an immediate crisis", said European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici.   "It does not mean we approve those reforms, it means the approach is serious enough for further discussion," he added.  'Lack of clear assurances' .  However, International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Christine Lagarde was quoted as expressing reservations about the reform proposals.  "In some areas like combating tax evasion and corruption I am encouraged by what appears to be a stronger resolve on the part of the new authorities in Athens," she wrote in a letter to the Eurogroup.  "In quite a few areas, however, including perhaps the most important ones, the letter is not conveying clear assurances that the government intends to undertake the reforms envisaged."

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