Greece heads for new EU-IMF audit soon
ATHENS - Agence France Presse
The mission chiefs of the so-called troika of creditors will begin the inspection with a meeting with Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras (C).A new EU-IMF audit of Greek fiscal performance and reforms has begun by this week, with the debt-laden country hoping progress in reining in spending will unlock further bailout loans amid the countrywide strikes.
The mission chiefs of the so-called troika of creditors, the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank, will begin the inspection with a meeting with Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras.
Expected to end in October, the audit will determine the release of a scheduled loan installment of 1.0 billion euros ($1.33 billion) from Greece’s ongoing EU-IMF bailout. In contrast with prior troika visits, Greece has made fiscal progress and recently announced a tentative primary surplus in the budget.
This could enable the Greek government to claim additional help for its recession-help economy from its European peers later this year.
A primary surplus is a state budget surplus excluding the cost of servicing debts.
The recession also seems to be easing, and there was a slight dip in unemployment rate due to seasonal tourism industry hirings.
“The signs of recovery are becoming clear,” Stournaras told a conference this past week. “No other country has achieved such a large (fiscal) adjustment in peacetime,” he said.
The inspection comes during a period of heightened labor unrest and political tension after the murder of an anti-fascist musician by an alleged member of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn this past week.
Strikes waves across country
The country is also grappling with an ongoing wave of strikes against a sweeping redeployment scheme in the civil service which the government says will maximize efficiency.
The unions counter that the move is merely designed to meet layoff quotas imposed by the international creditors.
Greek school teachers are on indefinite strike over the measure, state-employed doctors have also mobilized and civil servants staged a two-day walkout, later pledging to maintain resistance to the redeployment scheme.
Greece is due to move or temporarily cut the salaries of a total of 25,000 civil servants and axe 4,000 state jobs by the end of the year. The auditors will also scrutinize efforts to privatize three ailing companies -- miner LARKO, truck manufacturer ELVO and defense contractor EAS -- and the drafting of a new property tax.