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Greece shouldn't put off bailout reforms: ECB

ATHENS: Greece should not put off agreed bailout reforms or it could "complicate" an upcoming bailout review by its foreign creditors, a European Central Bank (ECB) official said.

Greece's third bailout review is expected to begin next month with bad loans, the 2018 budget, the energy market and privatisations among the main issues, the ECB's mission chief in Greece, Mr Francesco Drudi, told Greek newspaper Proto Thema.

"If any major backtracking or delays occur in the implementation of the key deliverables due so far, this could complicate the completion of the review," Mr Drudi said.

"Unfortunately, a number of parliamentary bills adopted after the conclusion of the second review may not be in line with programme commitments and will have to be assessed by our teams."

Athens is keen to conclude the review quickly to help smooth its return to market financing, as its third bailout programme ends next August.

The second review dragged on for half a year, and delays had hurt economic activity.

Greece has two remaining bailout reviews and Mr Drudi said it should aim to complete at least one between now and the end of the programme to create momentum.

"With regard to the post-programme period, we fully understand the government's desire for a clean exit," he said.

A "clean exit" would mean Greece emerging from its latest bailout without further conditionality.

"This will require a lot of effort to convince markets, investors and depositors that the momentum for reform will not abate and that no reversal of actions taken during the programme will occur."

Mr Drudi said he expected that Greece's fiscal targets for the year were "still within reach". "As far as next year is concerned, we do not have enough elements to assess the risks of a potential negative carry-over to 2018," he said. - REUTERS

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