* Reform is a condition for Greece to conclude bailout
* ECB says review could be concluded within a "reasonable"
* ECB wants full IMF participation in Greek programme -
(Adds comments by ECB official)
By Angeliki Koutantou
ATHENS, Jan 9 Greece's leftist government will
be able to push through a crucial pension reform in parliament,
part of measures the country has agreed to under its
international bailout, the deputy prime minister said in a
newspaper interview released on Saturday.
Greece has drafted a proposal to overhaul its ailing pension
system, which envisages merging all six pension funds into one
and a possible cut of future main pensions by up to 30 percent
. It plans to submit the proposal to parliament
by the end of the month and to hold a vote on it in early
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's government has a
parliamentary majority of just three seats and the reform, which
opposition parties and many pensioners and workers oppose, will
test its resolve to implement actions agreed with international
Asked whether Tsipras' ruling coalition has secured enough
support from lawmakers for the reform, Deputy Prime Minister
Yannis Dragasakis said in an interview with Avgi newspaper: "The
government has a strong and solid (parliamentary) majority."
"But passing the relevant law won't be enough," he said,
adding that the government should also secure backing from
workers and political parties to implement the changes.
Hundreds of Greek pensioners and workers marched in central
Athens on Friday to protest against the plan, which is part of a
package of reforms Athens needs to implement to conclude the
first review of its 86 billion-euro ($93.4 billion) bailout and
start debt relief talks.
A representative of the country's international lenders said
on Saturday that the review could be wrapped up within a
reasonable time frame as long as Greece stuck to its reform
"The Greek government demonstrated a certain degree of
commitment to delivering on its mandate to implement the
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was agreed last August
with the other euro area governments," the ECB's Monetary Policy
Strategy division head Rasmus Rueffer said in an interview with
Proto Thema newspaper.
"I trust that this commitment prevails and that the first
review will be concluded within a reasonable time frame."
WAIVER FOR GREEK BONDS
Rueffer said that the ECB would consider reinstating a
waiver of Greek bonds, which would mean letting Greek banks
again swap their country's government bonds for ultra-cheap ECB
funding, and including the securities in the euro zone's central
bank bond purchasing scheme "once the conditions are right".
He also said that International Monetary Fund's full
participation in the Greek programme would "be highly
The IMF said last year it would wait to see the outcome of
Greece's debt relief talks with EU partners before agreeing to
inject new cash as part of the country's bailout programme.
Tsipras last month accused the fund of making unrealistic
reform demands but eurozone officials have ruled out the fund's
exclusion from the bailout.
As Greece seeks support at home and in Europe, Finance
Minister Euclides Tsakalotos met Italian Economy Minister Pier
Carlo Padoan on Friday in Rome to discuss the timetable for
completion of the first review and debt reprofiling.
He discussed investments, unemployment and the banking union
with his Portuguese counterpart Mario Centeno on Saturday, a
Greek finance ministry official said.
Greece's mountain of debt is expected to reach 187.8 percent
of annual gross domestic product this year.
Dragasakis said that the Greek debt issue was a European
problem which should be mutualised.
But if European leaders were reluctant to consider a radical
solution at this point, then Greece should seek "a temporary
solution, which will make sure that debt and its servicing
expenses will not hinder long-term borrowing, investment and
social policies, as it is the case now", he said.
Rueffer said that euro zone partners have made clear that a
nominal debt "haircut" was not an option. However, there was
room for an extension of maturities and grace periods, he said.
(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Digby Lidstone)