Creditor audit chiefs head to Greece to oversee bailout

Athens, July 28

The head representatives of Greece’s international creditors will return to Athens for the first time in nearly a year to oversee work on the country’s new bailout, a finance ministry source said today.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) the representatives of the four institutions will be in Athens,” the source said, referring to the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Technical teams from the four institutions on Monday had already begun hammering out the final terms for a rescue package worth up to 86 billion euros.

The talks started after the Greek parliament passed two sets of reforms demanded by the eurozone as part of a bailout deal sealed at a tense summit last month.

“The technical teams are expected to have completed their work by Friday and only in case of a special case will there be a ‘follow up’ during the weekend,” the ministry source said.

Athens and Brussels hope the terms of the new bailout can be finalised by mid-August, with cash-strapped Athens facing a 3.2 billion euro repayment to the ECB on August 20, and a 1.5 billion euro reimbursement to the IMF the following month.

However, there was confusion in Athens after Brussels indicated on Monday that more measures would need to be approved before funds are released.

“More reforms are expected ... on the part of Greek authorities to allow for a swift disbursement under ESM and this is what is being discussed right now,” EU Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said on Monday.

The finance ministry source insisted today that ‘reports on new prior actions are not justified by the summit agreement ... nor by the talks with the institutions so far’.

Formerly known as the ‘troika’, the creditors were widely loathed in Athens as enforcers of ruinous austerity policies before the government of leftist PM Alexis Tsipras kicked them out earlier this year.

The mission chiefs of the EU, ECB and IMF had last been in Greece in September.