NEWS

Greece to get fourth loan tranche but must do more

Greece will receive the next 15-billion-euro tranche of its emergency loan package but will have to speed up its structural reforms and sell off 50 billion euros worth of state assets, officials representing the country?s creditors said on Friday.

Following a week of inspections at Greek ministries and talks with officials in Athens, representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — known collectively as the troika ?- gave their assessment of how Greece is progressing with its attempt to rectify its public finances.

IMF mission chief Poul Thomsen said the Greek reform program was at a ?critical juncture,? while Servaas Deroose of the European Commission said a ?decisive breakthrough in the following weeks and months will be crucial.?

Greece will have to privatize state assets worth 50 billion euros by 2015 to reduce its massive debts, the EU and IMF officials added.

The government has already slashed public spending, frozen pensions and increased taxes under the terms of the 110-billion-euro bailout agreed in May last year to save it from bankruptcy.

“The program is on track but it will not remain on track without a significant, broad-based acceleration of reforms,» said Thomsen. «Reforms have clearly not yet reached a critical mass needed to secure recovery.”

The officials said the 50 billion euros from state sell-offs should come in 2011-2015, including 15 billion in 2011-2012. The government’s previous target was for 7 billion euros in 2011-2013.

“We see there are three very important sources for privatizations — listed and unlisted companies, the assets the government has in these companies, and commercial real estate,» said Deroose.

“To help reduce public debt and support higher investment and growth, it is essential to scale up privatizations,» he said.