The so-called quartet of Greece’s international creditors is expected in Athens on Monday to kick-start negotiations over the fourth, and final, review of the country’s bailout program.
The most important issues on the agenda refer to energy market reform and privatizations, as well as a review of prior actions left over from the previous round of talks.
The mission chiefs representing the ECB, IMF, ESM and European Commission will begin talks with Greek officials immediately, but the finishing touches of the review are expected after the Easter holiday period. Both sides will strive for a technical agreement being reached by early May at the latest, in order for a 24 May Eurogroup meeting to take stock of developments.
The fourth review consists of 88 key deliverables, after the implementation of which, Athens will be entering the post-bailout era. Debt relief measures and arrangements regarding the supervision of the Greek economy remain undetermined.
By the end of the bailout program in August 2018, a total of approximately 18 billion euros will be disbursed to Athens in bailout loans.
The Greek government hopes to regain sustained debt market access and no longer rely on European creditors and the IMF for funding. However, creditors insist that some supervision will be necessary and Athens has been strongly urged not to allow the economy to veer off the reform track.
Although the current coalition government has kept faith with the program in recent years, officials are still eager to implement various social and growth-boosting policies of their own design. Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos stated last week that taxpayers will see a tax reduction of 3.5 billion euros in the near future, due to increased revenues from the reduction of tax evasion. The Labor Minister, Efi Achtsioglou has also heralded an increase in the minimum wage.
Such policies may help the ruling party close the gap with main opposition New Democracy in opinion polls. A poll by Metron Analysis for Sunday weekly “To Vima” put the center-right party on 34.9 percent over 25.2 percent for SYRIZA.