The European Central Bank has deferred giving Greece access to its cheap money for at least another three weeks. But after passing another batch of bailout reforms through parliament, Athens is confident the lifeline will be granted soon. Ivor Bennett reports.
Lunchtime in Athens and it's busy. But only because of the tourists. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) TAVERN EMPLOYEE, ANTONIS, AGED 48, SAYING: "Things are very hard because we don't have Greek clients anymore, we are counting on the few existing foreign tourists. For Greeks it is so difficult that they barely get out of their houses." The latest tax hikes have pushed VAT to 24 percent. Duties on alcohol, tobacco and coffee are next. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) RETIRED TEACHER, PAVLOS ASTERIOU, SAYING: "It's an unreasonable tax because it's taxing money that does not exist. Where will we find this money so that we can pay?" For the government at least, the search for money may be over. After parliament passed the final requirements for the next bailout funds. But that came too late to qualify for cheap loans from the ECB. With Mario Draghi choosing NOT to waive the bank's rules for countries to be rated above junk status... just yet. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECB PRESIDENT, MARIO DRAGHI, SAYING: "Once the prior actions are implemented, the Governing Council will take a decision leading to the reinstatement of the waiver." Greek bank stocks fell more than 3 percent on the decision. But with reforms on track, the government believes it'll get access at the bank's next meeting. SOUNDBITE (English) NANDINI RAMAKRISHAN, MARKET ANALYST, JPMORGAN, SAYING: "We do expect Greece to manage those reforms and put them through and thus get access back into the ECB's lending facility and programme and thus not be a huge concern. If there was going to be anything bad, like a Greek exit from the euro zone, we believe that would've already happened." But for those living through the crisis, optimism is hard to find. These people haven't been paid since March and won't be for some time. The hotel where they worked has suspended operations - even the tourist trade isn't enough.