Greece braces for troika scrutiny and creditor talks
By George Georgiopoulos
ATHENS (Reuters) - Inspectors for Greece's international lenders and private creditors kick off a round of meetings with the government on Monday to prepare for a new 130-billion euro ($173.75 billion) bailout plan and bond swap scheme to keep the country afloat.
Greece narrowly averted bankruptcy this month after foreign lenders agreed to release an 8-billion euro tranche of aid, but remains at risk of ending the year with a deeper-than-expected hole in its finances as a recession hits targeted tax revenue.
The EU, IMF and ECB inspectors -- known as the troika -- begin their visit to Athens on Monday with a focus on preparing the bailout agreed in October, and assessing the impact of a debt swap plan on banks.
They will also take stock of Greece's slow progress on reforms.
"The troika will meet with the finance minister on Monday, kicking off talks on the new programme, which is the priority. The team will be here for a week and meet other ministers as well," said a finance ministry official, who declined to be named.
There is no new tranche of financial aid pending and they are not expected to make any decisions during this visit.
Athens, which faces bond maturities this month starting December 19, is expected to receive the 8-billion euro loan tranche under its first bailout in a few days.
After meetings this week, the troika will take a break for the Christmas holiday and return in January to continue talks, the finance ministry official said. Continued...