December 1, 2015 / 10:33 AM / 4 years ago

Greece to finish first reform review in Dec: economy minister

Greek Economy Minister George Stathakis (L) and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos leave a hotel following an overnight meeting with representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the eurozone's rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism in Athens, August 11, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will close the first review of its reforms under the current bailout program in December, Greek Economy Minister George Stathakis told a business conference on Tuesday, a deadline many euro zone officials see as very ambitious.

“The first review will be concluded in December, by the end of this month,” Stathakis said in a speech at an annual conference of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.

A conclusion of the review means that a set of reforms agreed under the program has to be implemented. They include politically difficult changes to the pension system, income tax, electricity markets and setting up of an independent tax office.

But euro zone creditors have promised that once the first review is completed, they will start talks with Athens on further debt relief for the country.

Also the European Central Bank is then likely to include Greece in its government bond buying program — two strong incentives for a speedy conclusion for the review.

The head of the European Commission’s mission to Greece, Declan Costello, told the same conference on Monday euro zone creditors hoped to have the review done in early 2016.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski

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