EU-IMF officials begin new round of checks

A team of European Union and International Monetary Fund officials is due to begin on Thursday its latest check on the Greek economy.

Issues relating to labor laws, public enterprises (known as DEKOs), the social security system and the liberalization of closed professions will top their agenda.

The quarterly monitoring of Greece?s fiscal efforts will determine whether the fourth instalment of loans from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, set for March and amounting to 15 billion euros, will be disbursed.

The creditors, also known as the troika, have also expressed concern regarding the general government deficit (including the finances of local authorities, public companies etc that were recently included in the fundamentals of the state budget). The final data for 2010 is still pending so there may be some fine-tuning to the targets currently set for the 2011 budget.

Other areas of inspection will include the law liberalizing so-called closed professions and changes to public companies as far as state spending is concerned. The government has committed itself to saving 800 million euros, but has only secured 400 million through salary cuts. The rest will come via public transport fare increases and consumer spending cuts.