Greece faces EU, IMF bailout reviews
ATHENS: Officials from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) returned here yesterday to assess Greece's performance under a bailout plan as the government plays down the prospect of public sector job cuts.
The heads of the "troika" mission from the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank will meet Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras to review progress on privatisations, tax administration reforms, bank recapitalisation and steps to shrink the public sector.
International lenders unlocked aid in December after Greece's coalition government adopted austerity measures to bring the bailout plan back on track, with Athens aiming for a primary budget surplus this year for the first time since 2002.
Greece's eurozone partners and the IMF have urged strict adherence to the plan to shore up public finances, a line echoed by the head of the Euro Working Group of senior officials who prepare decisions of eurozone finance ministers.
"All that was agreed in the bailout plan must be implemented. These reforms were agreed to make the Greek economy stronger, flexible and more competitive," Euro Working Group chief Thomas Wieser told Greek newspaper Realnews.
In its sixth year of recession, Greece has agreed to shrink its public sector by 150,000 by 2015 to cut its wage bill, mainly through attrition: hiring one new person for every 10 who retire. Reuters