24 November, 2010
Representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund (dubbed the "troika"), approved a third loan payment of €9 billion yesterday, but stressed that Greece would need to undertake serious structural reforms in 2011, assigning the government a list of tasks ahead of the new year.
Troika officials praised the government
for reducing its deficit from 15.4% of Gross Domestic Product in 2009 to 9.4% by the end of 2010, but made it clear that an "extra effort" is necessary in order to meet the target of reducing its deficit by another 2% of GDP in 2011. "The programme is off to an impressive start, but it is also at a crossroads," said IMF mission chief for Greece Poul Thomsen. He said that Greece could save 2% of its annual GDP by conducting some reforms in the healthcare sector alone. Other measures the government must undertake include shutting down certain public bodies, modernizing the tax collection mechanism, and passing a law on the liberalisation of closed-shop professions.
In a joint statement
issued on Tuesday, Troika gave an overall assessment that "the program remains broadly on track and the end-September quantitative criteria have all been met".
On his part, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said that Greece's aim
was to return to capital markets in 2011, saying "we are doing our job. The rest will come in due time, depending on how things are going." The mission for the next programme review is scheduled for February, 2011.
Source: GREEK NEWS AGENDA issued by the Secretariat Genera