Greece makes ‘considerable progress’
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) auditors have today said Greece has made “considerable progress” in dealing with its public deficit.
For many months now, Greece has been making big cuts to public spending. However, this has met with strong opposition from unions.
Greece’s two main unions have launched several strikes this year but some of the protests have been violent.
In May, a strike resulted in three deaths in Athens after protesters set fire to a bank.
The cuts include reducing wages for state workers, trimming retirement benefits, and raising sales, fuel and alcohol taxes.
Greece’s Prime Minister, George Papandreou, has previously said the measures are necessary to trim the country’s budget deficit.
Greece is attempting to cut its deficit from 14% of GDP to 3% by 2014.
Meanwhile, the IMF, EU and the European Central Bank have visited Greece to monitor progress and after the audit mission, European Commission representative Servaas Deroose said: “Despite considerable progress in a vast array of areas, key challenges remain.”
Speaking at a joint press conference in Athens, the mission’s director Poul Thomsen added that “progress is off to a very strong start but there are pressure points, risk areas”.
In May, the EU and the IMF agreed to loan €110 billion. The three-year rescue deal comprises €80 billion from the EU, with the rest coming from the IMF.
A sum of €9 billion is due to be provided to Greece on 13 September and an official from the IMF said he was “confident” Greece would receive the next instalment.