May 25 - IMF and EU inspectors return to Athens to complete their inspection of Greece's reform program to tackle its debt crisis, as the country awaits payment of the next tranche of financial aid. Penny Tweedie reports.
Greece continued its uncomfortable path as IMF and EU inspectors returned to Athens to assess the reform programme to tackle its debt crisis. The financial inspection came as Greece awaits payment of the fifth instalment of financial aid. Because austerity measures haven't so far met targets, Greece is seeking to speed things and announced on Monday another 6 billion euros of cuts and plans to speed up a vast privatisation scheme. Greek Prime MInister George Papandreou warns a lack of political consensus could prevent more aid payments. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER GEORGE PAPANDREOU SAYING: "During these critical moments I am pursuing national consensus. I am completely open, as I have told leaders, to every good idea, realistic, productive, fair suggestion, from the parties and of course any responsible organisation in this country." A Reuters survey has exposed the extent the European banking system was sensitive to the Greek situation. It states any Greek debt restructuring would trigger a recapitalisation of euro zone banks, as Henk Potts from Barcalys Wealth explains (SOUNDBITE) (English): HENK POTTS, BARCLAYS WEALTH, SAYING: "The reality is that European banks have significant exposure to Greece to the tune of about 120 billion euros worth and of course a significant default will make it much much harder for other Europeans to continue to insure debt." Athens saw fresh protests over the proposed additional austerity measures. Another day of the potent mix of political anger and economic despair. Union members of the Public Power Corporation demonstrated in front of the company's offices calling for the reversal of plans to sell off stakes in the company. In Athen's main square thousands of Greeks gathered after a Facebook campaign was started to support protesters in Spain. The Spaniards are camped out on Madrid's central Puerta del Sol square to oppose the Spanish government's austerity measures. A French group is planning a similar demonstration in Paris this weekend to add their support. Penny Tweedie, Reuters