ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s international lenders have questioned some of the measures included in a near 12 billion-euro (9 billion pounds) austerity package prepared by the government and have demanded more details before signing off on the plan, a senior Greek official said on Sunday.
The so-called “troika” of inspectors from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund returned to Athens on Friday to conclude a report on Greece’s progress in meeting the terms of its latest bailout, which will determine whether it gets further aid.
“They have some objections on some of the measures. They want more details to understand them,” the official told reporters after a meeting between the EU/IMF inspectors and Greece’s finance minister on Sunday.
The measures will be rejected if those details are not provided, the official said, without specifying what the objections related to. The IMF’s mission chief to Greece, Poul Thomsen, told reporters as he left that the two sides had a “good meeting”.
The austerity package, which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has yet to persuade his allies to sign off on, contains a new round of unpopular wage and pension cuts for the next two years.
Thousands of Greeks demonstrated against the cuts at a prominent annual trade fair on Saturday in the northern city of Thessaloniki, and more protests are expected in the coming days.
Samaras was also holding talks with the other two political leaders in his coalition - Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis - on Sunday to discuss the cuts. The allies have objected to across-the-board cuts on wages and pensions to shield poorer Greeks from further misery.
Athens argues that it needs two more years to push through the austerity cuts because of a deepening recession, but the country’s lenders - exasperated by failed promises to reform - have demanded the country first deliver on its pledges before seeking any concessions.
Greece faces bankruptcy and a potential euro zone exit without the next tranche of aid, an issue that European leaders are expected to decide on next month.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Greg Mahlich