NEWS

Mission chiefs in Athens from Wednesday as prior actions remain possible obstacle

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All the heads of the technical teams representing Greece’s lenders are due to be in Athens on Wednesday after the start earlier this week of talks that the government hopes will result in a relatively swift agreement.

Greek government sources said on Tuesday that they expect the lower-level technocrats to complete their work by Friday, with Declan Costello of the European Commission, Rasmus Rueffer from the European Central Bank, Nicola Giammarioli of the European Stability Mechanism and Delia Velculescu representing the International Monetary Fund then taking over the discussions.

Costello has been in Athens for the past couple of days but the remaining heads are due to arrive on Wednesday. A meeting with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos has not been requested or arranged yet, Greek officials said.

The institutions’ technical teams visited the State Accounting Office, Finance Ministry and Bank of Greece on Tuesday. Their main task at the moment is to reassess the macroeconomic conditions in Greece and how recent developments, especially capital controls, have affected their forecasts.

Kathimerini understands that the lenders believe the economy will shrink between 2 and 3 percent this year, compared to the last forecast of 0.5 percent growth, which was made before banking restrictions were adopted. Also, the creditors see Greece being on course for a primary deficit of 1 percent of GDP this year, compared to the last forecast for a 1 percent surplus. This represents a difference of 3.6 billion euros.

A possible point of contention in the days to come is whether Greece will have to pass more prior actions before the third bailout is agreed and funding is released. Government sources repeated the Greek position that no new set of measures has been demanded. However, the creditors appear keen for further legislation to be drafted and approved in the next weeks.

Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said on Tuesday that if there is “goodwill on all sides” an agreement is possible by August 18, leaving time for Greece to receive funding to pay 3.5 billion euros to the European Central Bank two days later when a Greek bond it holds reaches maturity.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said that a deal in the second half of August is possible, allowing national parliaments to approve the third bailout and Greece to start receiving its new loans.