Greek deal may be delayed past weekend: officials

Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:25pm EDT
 
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By Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS (Reuters) - The heads of the international "troika" team discussing Greece's bailout could leave Athens on Saturday without a final agreement on 12 billion euros of planned spending cuts, Greek officials said on Thursday.

The European Union, International Monetary Fund "troika" team visiting Athens has rejected some of the measures proposed by the Greek government, holding up final agreement on unlocking the next installment of Greece's 31.5 billion euro ($41 billion)bailout package.

"We would like to have the package finalized today but it's difficult," said a very senior Greek official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The heads of the troika will leave at the end of this week or early next week. We must have 95 percent of the package of measures agreed by then."

Another official said the team would leave on Saturday.

The potential delay feeds uncertainty after tense scenes as the troika has ordered Greece go further in cutting wages and pensions as well as ending its taboo on firing civil servants.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government has insisted that savings on operating expenses will enable Athens to avoid the kind of cuts requested by the troika. Inspectors, wary after repeated failures by Greece to deliver, are skeptical.

Greek officials said the troika team, which returned to Athens this month after a month-long hiatus, had always intended to leave at the end of the week and are due back next week. Technical officials will remain to work on unresolved issues.   Continued...