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EU-IMF experts resume Greek audit

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Greece's finance minister met on Thursday with EU-IMF auditors who have resumed an audit in Athens that was interrupted last month, and said details would be available once a comprehensive agreement had been reached.

"Nothing will be sealed until everything is sealed," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said after speaking with representatives from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, a group of creditors known as the troika.

Stournaras told journalists that the atmosphere in the meeting, which lasted more than three hours, was "good" and that further meetings were scheduled on a daily basis.

"There is still work to be done," Stournaras was reported by the Athens News Agency to have added.

The inspection of Greek reforms was initially suspended to give the Greek government time to work on outstanding matters, and attention then turned to the banking crisis in Cyprus.

Pending issues reportedly include the thorny issues of civil service job cuts and a revised property tax.

The auditors' report is required to release a 2.8-billion-euro ($3.6 billion) rescue loan that has been delayed since March.

Another loan payment of 6.0 billion euros, originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2013, will have to be postponed until at least mid-April.

According to the terms of its bailout deal, Greece has to cut the number of public sector workers by 25,000 this year and by 150,000 by the end of 2015.

The heavily-indebted country, which has been relying on international aid to avoid bankruptcy and is in its sixth year of recession, must also recapitalise its banks and speed up privatisation plans.

"Our goal is for 2013 to be the final year of recession," conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Thursday.

Samaras is under pressure from his two coalition government partners, the socialists and moderate leftists, to ease the tax burden as the country suffers through a fourth year of austerity.

kv/wai

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130404/eu-imf-experts-resume-greek-audit