By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Some confusion remains over the return of troika officials in Athens to continue talks with the Greek government.
Statements by the European Commission and International Monetary Fund said inspectors will be back in Greece in January while the same announcements mention talks will resume this week in Athens.
Simon O’Connor, a European Commission spokesperson for economic and monetary affairs, said: “Technical discussions are expected to continue in Athens next week. We expect a full negotiating team to return to Athens in January, after the authorities have made further progress in implementation, with the objective of reaching a staff level agreement.”
Klaus Masuch of the European Central Bank, Matthias Mors of the European Commission and Poul Thomsen from the International Monetary Fund are expected to remain in Athens for one week and then return with the full technical teams in January it is now understood.
In his visit to Brussels last Wednesday, Greek PM Antonis Samaras said he was confident the adjustment program compliance review, which has dragged on for almost three months, would be completed before the end of December.
The main reason talks have not progressed is that the troika is unhappy with progress made in the last few months by the Greek government in delivering key commitments for the successful conclusion of the autumn review.
The government is having trouble persuading New Democracry and PASOK MPs that voting for measures stemming from the country’s MoU with its lenders will put the economy on the right track.
Meanwhile, Parliament approved the 2014 budget with a majority vote in the early hours of Sunday. The Parliament with 153 votes in favor, 142 against and one present vote, ratified the government’s budget which envisages the return of the Greek economy to positive growth rates after five years of deep recession.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said that the 2014 budget “was a budget of recovery, prospect and hope”.