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EU-IMF inspectors check Greek austerity progress

EU-IMF inspectors check Greek austerity progress
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The Greek finance ministry on Tuesday again played host to inspectors from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

They were there to check on Athens resolve to implement painful austerity plans needed to prevent the country from going bankrupt.

They were also discussing some technical changes to the reform package requested by Greece.

The inspectors have to sign off on the next instalment – 12 billion euros – of the 110 billion euros in last year’s initial EU IMF bailout package.

Further aid will be needed as Greece has 340 billion euros of debt, that is 30,000 euros for every one of the country’s 11.3 million citizens.

The EU and IMF are insisting Athens take more practical steps to cut that debt built up over years as Greece spent more than it received in income – with tax revenue particularly low.

At the same time the European Union could help boost the Greek economy through an early payment of one billion euros in EU funds earmarked for Athens under a plan of reducing economic and social differences in the 27-nation bloc.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made that suggested, but noted that there was no alternative to the painful reform programme agreed with officials from the Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“Greece has the potential to access a significant amount of EU money under cohesion policy,” Barroso told a news conference.

“We should concentrate these funds on where it matters… we should find ways to front-load and accelerate them, so that Greece gets the benefit now,” he said.

The initiative would help address one of the key concerns of financial markets — that even if Greece implements fiscal austerity, it will still be unable to pay back its huge debts because its economic growth is too slow.