Greece is expected to receive early next month the next tranche of the EUR 110 bln (USD 161 bln) bailout it had availed last year to avoid defaulting on its massive debts, European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials said Friday after a month-long review of the EU member-nation’s budget accounting, the BBC informs. Officials from the IMF, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank – the three international organizations responsible for the bailout package, said in a statement issued Friday that Greece’s next EUR 12 bln installment of the bailout “will become available, most likely, early July.” In a joint statement, the inspectors cautioned that Greece requires to step up its fiscal and structural reforms for reducing its budget deficit and to trigger economic growth. They said Athens has agreed to implement a medium-term fiscal strategy, which would be the basis for further aid. “Overall, significant progress, in particular in the area of fiscal consolidation, has been achieved during the first year of the adjustment program,” they noted in the joint statement.
Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers, said after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Luxembourg that he expects the euro-zone countries to back additional loans to Greece under strict conditions.
“I expect the euro-group to agree to additional financing to be provided to Greece under strict conditionality,” Juncker said. “This conditionality will include private sector involvement on a voluntary basis.”
Juncker’s remarks came as European officials were in the process of deciding whether to extend additional loans of up to EUR 60 bln to Greece to help the nation ward off a deep economic downturn. Any new funding will have to be approved by eurozone finance ministers when they meet later this month. There were speculations earlier that Greece might require further international loan to tackle its financial problems. Reports suggested Friday that Greece has already agreed to establish an agency to speed up its asset-sale schedule, implement “significant” cuts in public-sector employment, slash spending and raise taxes in exchange for the additional loan.
Friday morning a group of protesters from the communist-affiliated union PAME was holding a sit-in at the finance ministry, blocking entrance. In a statement, protesters referred to the measures as “barbaric.” According to CNN, the main labor unions have called a general strike on June 15.