Official says eurozone could start debt relief talks in May

The next troika review of the Greek adjustment program is likely to take place toward the end of August, possibly a few weeks after eurozone officials have started discussing further measures to reduce Greece’s public debt, a high-ranking Finance Ministry official said on Wednesday.

After wrapping up last week a prolonged troika review that ran to seven months, representatives of Greece’s lenders are not expected back in Athens for at least another four months and with the aim of completing the next review by the end of September, the official indicated on the sidelines of the Ecofin meeting in Athens. Until now it had been expected that the inspectors would return to the Greek capital in the second half of June.

The ministry official added that Greece’s eurozone partners may start discussions on debt relief at the May Eurogroup but that that the talks could last for some time, possibly until the fall.

Greece is due to receive more than 6 billion euros in bailout funding this month but will then have to complete prior actions to get the next two sub-tranches of 1 billion euros each in June and July. A revised copy of the memorandum, which sets goals for the months to come, also allows Greece to reduce taxes if it exceeds its primary surplus targets.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble insisted on Wednesday that the Greek program is “on track” and that he was aware of the country’s desire not to enter into a third bailout. He added that Germany would be willing to contribute should further loans be required.