Greece urges action to boost EU bailout fund

ATHENS, Greece —
Greece’s finance minister on Tuesday urged European officials to hurry up implementing decisions to strengthen the bloc’s bailout fund.

Evangelos Venizelos said in a conference call it is important to “quickly and fully implement” decisions on the European Financial Stability Fund’s new role – taken at last month’s EU summit that approved Greece’s new euro109 billion ($155.5 billion) bailout deal.

A finance ministry statement quoted Venizelos as saying that to do so would send the message that countries using the euro are able to back their common currency.

July’s Brussels summit agreed to give the EFSF powers to buy bonds on the secondary market, and intervene in countries before they are in full-blown crisis mode. The fund is set to grow to euro440 billion ($628 billion) after its expansion is approved by national governments, most of which are waiting until the end of the summer vacation season.

Participants in Tuesday’s conference call included eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, the ministry statement said. It said talks focused on implementation of the summit decisions, and private sector participation in the new Greek bailout.

Greece is dependent on international rescue loans, as its debt crisis rendered borrowing from international markets prohibitively expensive.

But the country is maintaining a market presence through short-term debt issues, and on Tuesday raised euro812.5 million in an oversubscribed 26-week treasury bill auction – for which it will have to pay interest of 4.85 percent, marginally less than last month.

Greek stocks also posted mild gains with the Athens bourse’s General Index ending 0.19 percent up, a day after hitting a 14-year low following the U.S. credit rating downgrade.

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