Greek cabinet ministers expressed confidence on Tuesday that the first review of the third bailout program can be concluded within the next ten days so that an extraordinary Euro group meeting on April 25-26 will clear the way for the disbursement of more aid to Athens.
"We are very close to reaching an agreement with international lenders," Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said during a press briefing at the Finance Ministry a few hours after the new pause in negotiations with creditors'envoys in Athens.
Greek Economy Minister Yorgos Stathakis and Labor and Social Insurance Minister Yorgos Katrougalos appeared equally optimistic during the press conference.
The representatives of IMF, the European Commission, ESM and ECB left the Greek capital on Tuesday after a week- long marathon discussion on the next set of fiscal adjustment measures and reforms Greece is requested to implement in exchange of the new financing.
The dialogue will resume on April 18 after the end of the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, Tsakalotos said.
Next week, the Greek government will also table two critical bills in the parliament on taxation changes and pension system reform, the Greek official added.
There are still pending issues regarding these two fronts, Tsakalotos said, stressing that recession-hit Greece cannot accept more burdens for low earning taxpayers pension cuts after a dozen rounds of cuts introduced since the start of the debt crisis in 2010 in a bid to avert default.
Proposed reforms of the crumbling pension system and taxation changes sent various professionals on the streets in massive anti-austerity demonstrations throughout this winter, as the assessment is dragging on since the autumn.
Katrougalos reassured on Tuesday that despite rumors and scenarios the minimum national monthly pension will stand at 384 euros (438 U.S. dollars), that low income pensioners will not suffer new losses and 80 percent of the self-employed will be paying smaller contributions to social security funds in the future.
The government will support the most vulnerable groups of Greek society, the low income earners and the middle class, Stathakis said on his part.
Without elaborating, the minister added that progress has been made also on another thorny issue under discussion with lenders'envoys, the management of the non performing loans of over-indebted households and businesses.
Regarding diverging views between IMF and European partners on the way forward concerning forecasts for the performance of Greek economy over the next two years and on when the discussion on debt relief should start, Tsakalotos underlined that the distance seems to be closing.
On its part, Greece works hard to resolve all issues and reach an agreement so that the debate on easing the Greek debt load starts, the Greek official highlighted.