Next tranche of Greek aid expected next month: lenders

ATHENS (Reuters) – A next tranche of international aid for Greece should be available in early July following further talks in the next few weeks on the government’s economic program, the EU, ECB and IMF said on Friday.

The next installment of aid under a 110 billion euro ($160 billion) bailout agreed last year had been expected this month. However, Athens has said that it has sufficient funds to cover its needs till mid-July.

More discussion on how to finance Greece’s bailout program would be held in the next few weeks. “Once this process is concluded and following approval of the IMF’s Executive Board and the Eurogroup, the next tranche will become available, most likely, in early July,” said the statement.

Aid for Greece needs to be approved by euro zone finance ministers in the Eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund’s executive board before it can be released to Greece.

The Greek government would create an independently managed privatisation agency, they said in the statement, issued after a one-month inspection of the nation’s troubled finances by European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank officials.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the Eurogroup, said on Friday he expected euro zone members to agree on additional financing for Greece.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Luxembourg, Juncker said the finance would be given under strict conditions, including the privatisation fund.

Athens has been under pressure to set up a body to speed up its 50 billion euro privatisation program, modeled on an agency which sold East German assets after the fall of communism.

Greece had achieved significant progress but fiscal and structural reforms had to be stepped up, the joint statement said.

“However, reinvigoration of fiscal and broader structural reforms is necessary to further reduce the deficit and achieve the critical mass of reforms needed to improve the business climate and pave the way for sustainable economic recovery.”

The Greek government was committed to an ambitious medium-term budget plan, they added.

“This strategy includes a significant downsizing of public sector employment, restructuring or closure of public entities, and rationalization in entitlements, while protecting vulnerable groups,” it said. “On the revenue side, the government will reduce tax exemptions, raise property taxation, and step up efforts to fight tax evasion.”

Greek liquidity remains tight but policies are in place to ensure it is adequate for banks, it said.