ATHENS, June 14 A working group of euro zone
ministers and officials supports Greece's next bailout payment,
two Greek finance ministry officials said on Friday, a decision
made easier by the closure of state broadcaster ERT.
The 3.3 billion euro ($4.4 billion) payment was approved by
euro zone finance ministers last month, contingent on benchmarks
to be met in June on anti-corruption efforts, household debt
relief and reforms of the electricity market.
The sources said the Eurogroup Working Group, which
comprises mainly deputy finance ministers and senior treasury
officials, had now backed the disbursement, paving the way for
the currency bloc's finance ministers to sign off on it.
Greece's decision this week to fire about 2,600 ERT
employees, which has left the government embroiled in a
political crisis, influenced the working group.
"The ERT shutdown certainly helped," one of the two
officials told Reuters.
Disbursement of the latest aid tranche, which is due some
time this month, would bring the total rescue loans Athens has
obtained from the European Union and the International Monetary
Fund since mid-2010 to about 210 billion euros.
The EU and the IMF have pledged about 240 billion euros over
2010-2014 to stave off a debt default that would have
destabilised the euro zone.
As one condition of the bailout, Greece has promised to lay
off 4,000 public sector workers by the end of the year, with
half to be dismissed by the end of September.
$1 = 0.7519 euros)