BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece will not be able to start negotiations on a third bailout until it makes changes to its sales tax and pension systems and strengthens the independence of its statistics office, a draft statement of euro zone finance ministers said on Sunday.
The conditions set out in the draft effectively exclude the Eurogroup ministers taking a decision on a next financing package for Greece during their meeting on Sunday because they all have to be passed by the Greek parliament.
“The Eurogroup... came to the conclusion that there is not yet the basis to start the negotiations on a new program,” the draft statement, seen by Reuters, said.
To begin such talks, the ministers would first want Greece to improve its VAT and pension systems, broaden its tax base to boost revenues and strengthen the independence of ELSTAT, the Greek statistics agency.
“Only subsequent to legal implementation of the above mentioned measures can negotiations on the memorandum of understanding commence, subject to national procedures having been completed,” said the draft. It is set to be presented to euro zone leaders meeting later on Sunday in Brussels.
Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Tom Koerkemeier, editing by Philip Blenkinsop