By N. Bellos
The dates and time-frame for concluding the third review of the ongoing Greek bailout program were more-or-less fixed this month, as creditors' auditors are set to return to Athens after the IMF's autumn meetings in mid October and with most European officials now clearly referring to a target for concluding negotiations by the end of the year.
The latest "fly in the ointment", however, affecting the leftist-rightist coalition government's planning is a demand by creditors that the Greek state cover hundreds of millions of euros in arrears owed to the private sector, before it receives an 800-million-euro sub-tranche. That money was left over from a tranche of bailout loans last July. A relevant deadline of Oct. 31 was set in this case.
A Eurozone official said as much on Thursday, while also touching on another political "hot potato" that has bedeviled the already beleaguered Tsipras government this month, namely, the continuing bureaucratic delays and legal challenges faced by the Helleniko real estate development project in southeast coastal Athens - a massive privatization that is also specifically cited in the third memorandum.
The same official, in fact, called the matter a "symbol of obstruction", while adding that creditors are currently collecting and requesting data to confirm what Athens says are payments to cover its arrears.
"It would be conducive if we had these figures by Oct. 31," the official said, while clearly warning that if the deadline passes without a positive result then the loan money returned to the program's fund.