ECONOMY

Athens likely to pass troika test

Greece seems to be getting good marks from its creditors’ representatives, who have completed their first week of inspections and meetings in Athens and are set to issue a positive report that will allow the release of another 9 billion euros in September. Envoys from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, unoffially known as the «troika,» had another meeting with Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou yesterday afternoon in a positive atmosphere upon completing their work here monitoring the progress of the Greek economy. The next inspection by the three international organizations is expected at the end of October. Their next steps now will be drafting and delivering a preliminary report to Papaconstantinou on Monday, while at the middle of next week they are due to issue a progress report that will go to to their respective institutions in Washington (IMF), Brussels (EU) and Frankfurt (ECB). Based on this report and its conclusions, the second installment of funds to Greece will be released by the IMF and the European Commission. This is expected to take place on September 13 and will total up to 9 billion euros. A top ministry official said after yesterday’s meeting that the troika had been informed that the state budget is being properly implemented and that the risks that exist have been acknowledged. The same official added that the next moves would concern the streamlining of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), the Kallikratis scheme, which provides for a radical reorganization of local authorities, and the opening up of so-called closed-shop professions. Regarding the latter, a sweeping bill is expected to be submitted by the end of the year that will provide for their liberalization. The official also stressed that more details will be announced regarding the implementation of the agreement signed between Athens and its creditors, with an update on Greece’s commitments. Finance Ministry sources added that the content of the foreign representatives’ report is certain to be positive, as all commitments undertaken by Greece during the first half of 2010 have either been fulfilled or are at an advanced stage of implementation. On the other hand, the experts’ report is likely to include the fiscal danger zones, mostly concerning revenues that are lagging considerably compared to the annual target. There will also be a demand for the acceleration of certain policies, such as tackling inflation, appointing certified accountants to public companies and hospitals, reducing tax and social security contribution evasion and bolstering transparency in state procurements.