Troika visit next week due to be brief

Top officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are expected to spend only four days in Athens next week, when they will be briefed by the government on the measures it plans to take, before producing their report for Greece?s eurozone partners toward the end of August.

The officials from what is collectively known as the troika are due in Athens on Tuesday and are expected to leave by Friday. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is due to meet with the visiting representatives on Thursday, July 26, to outline the measures the coalition plans to take over the next two years to save 11.5 billion euros.

Apart from that, Stournaras is also expected to assure the troika officials that no more measures beyond the 3 billion euros of cuts set out earlier this year will be needed in 2012.

The finance minister will also attempt to convince the technocrats that cuts to so-called special salaries in the civil service, which mainly relate to those serving in the armed forces and police, will not be needed as the savings can come from other areas. Using the argument that Greece is experiencing a bigger economic contraction than expected this year, Stournaras may also argue that some measures, such as the increase on value-added tax at hotels and restaurants, need to be reversed.

Troika technical staff will remain in Athens until the end of the month and are due back in Greece a couple of weeks later to wrap up the review of the Greek program, which is expected some time after August 20 and will form the basis for discussion at the September Eurogroup meeting, when Stournaras is likely to put Greece?s case for at least an extension to the fiscal adjustment period, which is due to end in 2014.

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