Greece makes 'strong start' in cutting debt, IMF says

Image caption,
Greece's continuing austerity measures have sparked violent protests

Greece's efforts to tackle its public deficit have had a "strong start", the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) have said.

The comments came after a delegation of staff from the IMF, EU and European Central Bank visited the country to check on the progress.

In May, the EU and the IMF agreed to loan Greece 110bn euros ($145bn; £91bn) over three years.

An IMF official said he was "confident" Greece would get the next instalment.

A 9bn-euros loan is due to be given to Greece on 13 September, and is dependent upon the government meeting progress targets.

Greece is continuing efforts to make big cuts to government spending, moves that have sparked a number of violent protests and strikes.

While the IMF and EU welcomed the work Greece had carried out so far, they also warned that "important challenges and risks remain".

They noted while central government spending was now "significantly below budget limits", local authorities and hospitals were still over-spending.

The report added that the Greek government had made "impressive" efforts regarding structural reforms, such as trimming pensions and continuing efforts to reform the labour market.

"The programme has made remarkable progress," said Servaas Deroose, a representative for the European Commission.

However, he added that this now needed to be consolidated.

The Greek government is trying to reduce a national debt that stands at about 115% of its gross domestic output, and a public deficit that exceeds 13%.

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