Greek Finance Minister announces agreement with debt inspectors

1. Wide of Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras walking up to stage and sitting down
2. Mid of Stournaras (on right)
3. SOUNDBITE (Greek) Yannis Stournaras, Greek Finance Minister:
“We have a smooth resolution of negotiations with the troika. In other words, we have an agreement, Mr. Thomsen will tell you about this as well. Therefore we are expecting the disbursement of the next tranches without a problem.”
4. Wide of conference room
5. SOUNDBITE (Greek) Yannis Stournaras, Greek Finance Minister:
“The eurozone must not remain inert. What should it do? We held important talks within the framework of the eurogroup over the past two days and the Ecofin on these issues. Firstly, a basic precondition, not only for Greece and other southern European countries with problems is a banking union without delay and without asterisks.”
6. International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika representative Poul Thomsen walking on to stage
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Poul Thomsen, IMF representative to the troika:
“Let me first begin by confirming what the minister said that we, this morning we reached an agreement on the policies for the conclusion of the current discussions on the review of the programme. So this is good news and this will pave the way, once our management and the troika institutions have endorsed what we are doing for the next process.”
8. Wide of Stournaras and Thomsen sitting on a panel in front of seated guests
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Poul Thomsen, IMF representative to the troika:
“Greece has indeed come a very long way. Let me give you three examples. First, as many others have said, the fiscal adjustment in Greece has been exceptional by any international comparison. Greece has consistently delivered on its fiscal targets, even as it was facing much stronger than expected head winds in the form of a deepening recession.”
10. Wide of conference guests seated at roundtables
Greece cleared a key hurdle in its drive to receive its next batch of bailout loans after international debt inspectors said on Monday they had reached an agreement over the country’s economic reforms, including the firing of civil servants.
The review by delegates from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission and European Central Bank (ECB), known collectively as the troika, is part of a regular process under which Greece receives instalments of its multi-billion euro bailout if it meets certain conditions.
Greece has been dependent on the rescue loans since 2010.
In total, Greece has been granted 270 (b) billion euros (353 (b) billion US dollars) in bailouts, which it receives gradually.
In return, successive governments have pledged to overhaul the Greek economy and have imposed stringent spending cuts and tax hikes.
The reforms have been painful.
The country is mired in a deep recession, currently in its sixth year, and unemployment has spiralled to around 27 per cent.
In a joint statement, the three institutions said recent steps taken by Greece indicate targets for March were “likely to be met in the near future.”
As a result, they said Greece’s 16 euro partners could soon agree to disburse 2.8 (b) billion euros (3.7 (b) billion US dollars) pending from last month.
The eurozone finance ministers and the IMF board are “expected to consider approval of the review in May,” they added.
“Greece has indeed come a very long way,” said the IMF’s troika representative Poul Thomsen, speaking during a conference on the economy in central Athens.
“The fiscal adjustment in Greece has been exceptional by any standard.”
If the country continues implementing the reforms it has pledged, it will be able to achieve its overall budget targets without imposing any further austerity measures, Thomsen said.

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