Troika finds progress in Greek visit


Greece has made progress in finding budget cuts needed to continue its bailout programme but not all work is done and international inspectors will return in September for a final verdict, officials said today.

Troika inspectors, from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, concluded a visit to Greece today saying the talks with the new coalition government were productive.

"Talks went well, we made good progress. We will take a break and come back in early September," the IMF's mission chief for Greece Poul Thomsen told reporters after a meeting at the finance ministry.

Greece has pledged a series of fiscal and reform measures worth €11.5 billion to convince international lenders to keep Athens hooked to a €130 billion euro lifeline and avoid bankruptcy.

With a €3.2 billion euro bond maturing in August and Greek officials warning the state will run out of cash within weeks, the troika's review is crucial for Greece's survival.

"The discussions on the implementation of the programme were productive and there was overall agreement on the need to strengthen policy efforts to achieve its objectives," the troika said in a joint statement.

"The Greek authorities are committed to proceeding with determination in their work over the next month," the statement said.

In comments to Sunday's Ethnos newspaper, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the measures were needed to bring the programme back on track and will help Athens restore credibility with its European partners.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' conservative-led government also announced the revival of a series of structural reforms to give the economy a much-needed boost if Greece is to ever escape the debt crisis.

The European Commission welcomed the announcements but urged the country to act on its promises.

The structural reforms announced during the troika visit include trying to revive a privatisation programme that has stagnated andproceed with a liberalisation of markets and professions that has been done only on paper.