ECONOMY

Bailout inspectors to return to Greece to finish review

bailout-inspectors-to-return-to-greece-to-finish-review

Greece's bailout inspectors were cleared Monday to return to Athens to complete a much-delayed review of the government's adherence to its economic reform commitments that if successful will pave the way for discussions on relieving the country's debt burden.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who is also the eurozone's top official, confirmed the return of the so-called mission chiefs to the Greek capital as soon as Tuesday as there is "enough common ground" between the two sides.

"We stressed that more work needs to be done, more effort needs to be put in for there to be a good outcome," he said after a meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers in Brussels.

Though the Greek government has delivered on much of what's been asked of it over the past few months, it has stumbled on one key measure: pension reform. The Greek government wants to protect payments and hike contributions – drawing major protests from professional groups, from farmers to lawyers and undertakers.

A successful review of the reforms demanded in the country's latest bailout program is needed to release more rescue loans for Athens to pay its debts – the next big repayment is due to the European Central Bank in July – and to kick-start discussions on how to reduce Greece's debt burden.

Dijsselbloem confirmed that the debt discussions could take place soon and will inevitably be part of discussions about the next stage of Greece's bailout program.

In light of a "long-standing promise" to make Greece's debt servicing manageable if commitments were met, Dijsselbloem confirmed that those discussions "will be on our table in the near future."

"We look forward to discussions, closing in a timely manner the first review and having a discussion on debt," Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said. "I am sure that sensible people, when they get across the table, will find a sensible conclusion."

[AP]