Greece holds talks with lenders on bailout progress

Greek ministers meet with country’s International lenders to monitor progress of third-bailout

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Unemployed workers protest against planned pension reforms in front of the Labour ministry in Athens, Greece, February 2, 2016

Greece's finance, labour and economy ministers held talks on Tuesday (February 2) with the country's international lenders in Athens to study the progress Greece has made in implementing the terms of a multi-billion euro bailout deal and assess whether it has done enough to secure debt relief in future.

The mission chiefs of the country's creditors - European institutions and the International Monetary Fund - arrived in Athens on Monday (February 1) and are scheduled to hold meetings throughout the week.

Cash-strapped Greece is facing challenges on various fronts as it struggles to win public approval to overhaul its pension system and cut more costs while its EU peers urge it to tighten controls on the flow of migrants passing through on their way to northern Europe.

Farmers blocked Greece's border with Macedonia over pension reforms on Tuesday and labour unions have called a nationwide walkout for February 4 to protest a proposed reform of the social security system, as demanded by the country's creditors. The overhaul would leave the Greek people digging deeper into their pockets to safeguard the viability of the pension system.

A minister who participated in Monday's meeting, and who declined to be named, told journalists that the two sides will examine the pension reform proposal and ways to cover fiscal deficits until 2018.

Athens is keen for a speedy completion of the review, which was expected to begin late last year. It is hoping a positive outcome would boost economic confidence and liquidity and pave the way for debt-relief talks.

To secure a positive review Athens must pass legislation to make the social security system viable and devise measures to attain primary budget surpluses for 2016 to 2018.

Sources close to the lenders said they were still reviewing the efficiency of the proposal and had yet to agree on the scale of fiscal savings to be made.