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EU-IMF team to assess Greek finances from Monday

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(ATHENS) - A group of EU and IMF experts begin on Monday an audit of Greek finances that will determine whether Athens will receive the next tranche of a 110-billion-euro ($149-billion) loan package.

Officials from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will decide if Athens will be granted the fourth instalment, worth 15 billion euros.

Greece has so far drawn 38 billion euros of the EU-ECB-IMF loan package that saved it from bankruptcy last year.

The funding is released in instalments following quarterly audits.

Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told the Ta Nea newspaper this week that the next instalment is "not in danger" of being denied since most important actions and fiscal objectives have been reached.

The team of experts from the three organisations will stay in Athens until February 11.

In their last visit in November, Greece won approval for the third instalment but the IMF and EU prescribed even tougher action on tax evasion and financial waste in the health-care system and in state companies to merit another payout.

The inspection comes as Greece returns to the borrowing markets on Tuesday with an issue of three-month treasury bills worth 300 million euros.

The debt-hit country is seeking a return to international markets in 2011 after a scare over its finances dried up its loan access last year and drove it to the brink of bankruptcy.

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