Eurozone rescue fund pays final bailout loan to Greece

Workers raise a slab at the Parthenon temple atop of Acropolis Hill in Athens, Greece, Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Years of repair work continue at the the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

BRUSSELS — A rescue fund set up to help euro-using countries paid its final 15 billion-euro ($17.3 billion) bailout loan to Greece on Monday after objections by Germany delayed the payment by several weeks.

The European Stability Mechanism said 9.5 billion euros (nearly $11 billion) of the loan would go toward a cash buffer Greece could use to meet its financial needs for almost two years.

The other 5.5 billion euros ($6.4 billion) was earmarked for paying off some of the country's considerable debt.

The Greek government hailed the payment as "the last act of the bailout drama."

"Greece can now begin a new page of progress, justice and growth," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' office said in a statement. "We face a lot of work ahead, but also a new prospect, at last, for the majority" of the Greek people.

Greece has depended on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund since 2010. The third, and last, bailout runs out on Aug. 20; after that, Greece will have to rely on international bond markets for money.

The cash buffer means the government won't be in a hurry to do so, given the country's sub-investment grade credit rating and the high rates private investors would demand on loans.

European Stability Mechanism Managing Director Klaus Regling said the disbursement showed "Greece has come a long way" in managing the bailout and that "the commitment and hard work of the Greek people are now paying off."

In mid-July, Germany objected to immediate payment of the final installment, claiming Athens had not met all the requirements.

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