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MNI (London)
--But Worries Over ROL After ELSTAT Trial Hitting Investors
By Tara Oakes
     BRUSSELS (MNI) - Greece's recent bond issuance hasn't left creditors
worried about having less leverage on the country's spending patterns, Eurogroup
President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday.
     Asked by MNI whether worries had struck after the Greek bond issuance means
the country has more access to market cash, Dijssebloem said that the issue
shouldn't be considered in those terms.
     "I'm not worried about leverage. The key issue is that we have a joint
interest and a joint agenda and that the cooperation is strong," Dijsselbloem
responded at a joint press conference with representatives from the ECB, ESM and
European Commission.
     Greece raised E3 billion via a three-year bond sale in July at a yield of
4.625%, the first fully syndicated sale in over 3 years. 
     The next ESM disbursement of E0.8bln could reach Greece by the end of
October, the ESM's Klaus Regling said, adding it is earmarking for arrears
clearance. "We will make that assessment in October," he added.
     Greece raised E3 billion via a three-year bond sale in July at a yield of
4.625%, the first fully syndicated sale in over 3 years. The next ESM
disbursement of E0.8bln could reach Greece by the end of October, the ESM's
Klaus Regling said, adding it is earmarking for arrears clearance. "We will make
that assessment in October," he added.
     Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said he had left the Eurogroup
meeting with "optimism" that the country was going to exit its programme
successfully as planned in 2018.
     His optimism extended to Greece hitting its fiscal targets in 2018, adding
that the country should have a full answer by November for this year to quell
fears.
     "The concern has arisen because of the shortfall in income tax, but at the
same time we have overperformance in other areas. We have overperformance in the
social security budget, we have overperformance in VAT, so what the net result
will be we don't know yet."
     "I'm very confident that we won't need any measures for 2018 because I
think the pros and the cons, the overperformance and the underperformance will
cancel themselves out," he told journalists on the sidelines of the meet.
     He added that neither the ECB nor the ESM were calling for an asset quality
review for Greek banks.
     "There will be a stress test, like there will be throughout Europe, in two
year's time -- when we will have had two years of good growth, when we will have
had all the measures we have taken to address the NPLs and the Greek banks will
be in a very good position," he said.
     ELSTAT WORRIES
     But what is bugging creditors is perceived threats to the rule of law and
independence of Greece's national statistical authority ELSTAT after the most
recent trial of its former chief, Andreas Georgiou.
     Georgiou, who had previously escaped unscathed from other trials, was
handed down a suspended sentence in a trial earlier this year widely believed to
be politically motivated.
     Dijsselbloem insisted that Eurogroup weren't asking the Greek government to
interfere, but said that it had damaged investor confidence.
     "It directly and indirectly touches on whether ELSTAT is independent,
whether the people there are protected and this is raised each time there is a
court case," Dijsselbloem said.
     His conviction in August was for "breach of duty" for not keeping ELSTAT
board members up to date in 2009 when he sent data to Eurostat on the country's
deficit. 
     Tsakalotos confirmed the issue had come up but sought to downplay fears,
saying that Georgiou had only been convicted on a "minor charge of procedure".
     "There is no question of the independence of ELSTAT, the independent
statistical office, or indeed the quality of Greek statistics. And indeed there
was no question in anybody's mind that this Greek government has ever influenced
or attempted to influence the statistical office," he said.
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: M$X$$$,M$Y$$$,MC$$$$,MI$$$$,M$$FI$,MFX$$$,MGX$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com

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