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Greeks Bearing Debts
A Rock and a Very Hard Place

A senior EU official downplayed the chances of Greece presenting a comprehensive reform plan by Friday’s EU summit in Riga but expressed hope that Athens would be able to pay all of its bills through the end of June without European bailout funds being released:

Thomas Wieser, who heads the Eurogroup Working Group that prepares the decisions for the ministers’ meetings, said Greece would in any case need to provide the list in the coming month.

“The clock is ticking. There won’t be a new list in Riga, but over the course of May it must finally be reached,” he told Austrian broadcaster ORF late on Tuesday.

“The liquidity situation in Greece is already a little tight, but it should be sufficient into June.”

Wieser’s optimism may fade. The Syriza coalition’s latest gambit for scrounging together cash—asking local municipalities to transfer money to the central government so that it can meet its looming obligations—doesn’t look promising. At a rancorous meeting of the Union of Municipalities, Greek Mayors reacted furiously to the proposal, with the non-aligned Mayor of Athens calling the move “unconstitutional” and warning that it would “asphyxiate” the normal running of the capital and lead to social unrest.

Greece has €770 million coming due for payments to the IMF in May and will need an additional €1.6 billion to pay government workers and public pensions. Without the municipalities’ cooperation, it’s not clear how the central government can make ends meet. Greek voters may finally be realizing that their government’s brinksmanship is sending them over a cliff. Public support for Syriza took a tumble, with a poll released on Tuesday registering support at 45.5 percent, down sharply from 68 percent last month.

The municipality appropriation decree, issued on Monday, is set to be voted on this week in the Greek parliament.

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