NEWS

Institutions due to return for conclusion of review

TAGS: EU, Economy, Politics

Officials representing Greece’s lenders are due back in Athens on Monday with the aim of completing the program review and paving the way for an agreement on debt relief.

It is not certain exactly how long the missions will need to stay in the Greek capital so there can be a so-called staff-level agreement (SLA), but the last part of the review may last until early May, according to some sources.

Although there was a broad agreement between the government and the creditors at the Eurogroup in Malta earlier this month over what needs to be done, there are several details that need to be ironed out in the days ahead. Once the SLA has been secured, the government will have to pass the new measures, including pension cuts and a reduction to the tax-free threshold, through Parliament.

The government’s spokesman, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, indicated last week that the vote would take place in the first half of May. Athens wants everything, including the debt relief scheme, to be wrapped up by May 22 for the next Eurogroup.

The indications at the International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington over the past few days are that the IMF and the European lenders have moved closer on the debt issue, although it remains to be seen whether they will agree on the level of detail that will be announced should there be a final accord. The IMF is pushing for any pledge made by the eurozone to be as detailed as possible, but Germany prefers to avoid setting out the exact relief measures that will apply after the end of the program in the summer of 2018.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos held talks with key figures, such as IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble, in Washington. Sources said that during the meeting with Lagarde, the IMF chief acknowledged that Athens had agreed to the measures the Fund wanted and that it is now time for Greece to get something back with regards to debt.

Following his 40-minute meeting with Tsakalotos, Schaeuble stressed again that Athens will have to adopt more measures if it does not meet its fiscal targets in the future.

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