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Greek finance minister sees troika deal by year-end

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is optimistic that the government may still come to a deal with the country's international creditors by the end of this month and clinch the disbursement of the next tranche of bailout funding, worth 1 billion euros.

Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Monday, Stournaras said "the milestones seem to be okay so we expect the disbursement of the installment by the end of the year," contrasting with statements earlier in the day by Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Djisselbloem, who said that it would be “very, very hard if not impossible” for the troika’s review to be finalized by the end of the month.

Envoys from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission - collectively known as the troika - were due to return to Athens on Tuesday to continue negotiations with the government, which are expected to focus on the so-called prior actions, or milestones as Stournaras referred to them, that Greece agreed to in exchange for further funding.

The Greek finance chief also struck an upbeat note when asked about the government's projections for the economy next year.

"I'm very optimistic about next year. We're going to have positive growth so we can have... limited [market] access next year, but it will be the first time since 2010 so it will be very important," Stournaras told CNBC.

He was also optimistic about the size of an estimated fiscal gap next year, the size of which his another issue splitting Athens and troika.

"We have a very big output gap, this gap closing slowly. This closing generates growth and driving forces next year will be investment and exports," Stournaras said.

Stournaras reiterated assurances that no additional austerity measures will be taken to cover a possible shortfall.

"I have explained the social limits of austerity measures and this is why we don't want to take further austerity measures," he told CNBC.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday December 10, 2013 (09:49)  
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