Eurogroup chief says troika all-clear must precede next decisions about Greek economy

Greece will have to get the troika review due to begin at the end of the month out of the way before it and its lenders can begin assessing issues such as a third bailout and debt relief, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Milan.

“First the next review of the Greek program has to be completed and then the discussions about what comes next for the Greek economy will begin as the European program for Greece finishes at the end of the year,” said the Dutch finance minister.

Greece is due to receive the last tranche of its second bailout before the end of the year, whereas the International Monetary Fund still has installments due all the way to 2016. Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis made it clear to his counterparts during Friday’s meeting that Athens is not interested in examining the possibility of a third bailout even though European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has suggested this would be the best option.

Hardouvelis also briefed the other members of the Eurogroup on Greece’s preparations for the return of troika inspectors toward the end of the month. Sources said he told them that the government has completed 55 percent of the required actions compared to 20 percent when he was appointed in June. The Eurogroup’s response was to highlight the distance Greece still has to cover in order to fulfill all of the actions it has agreed with its lenders, the IMF, ECB and European Commission.

Hardouvelis also briefed his fellow ministers on the details of the tax cut pledges made by Samaras at the Thessaloniki International Fair last Saturday.

Athens is due to receive 1.8 billion euros from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) at the end of the review, along with another 1.8 billion euros from the gains made on Greek bonds in the ECB’s Securities Markets Program (SMP). “Both amounts depend on the completion of the next review,” said EFSF chief Klaus Regling.

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