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EU-IMF auditors head for Portugal amid new hurdles

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(LISBON) - IMF and EU auditors are set to begin work in bailed-out Portugal on September 16, after two months of delay brought on by political turmoil, the Portugese government said on Monday.

The visit by the European Union and International Monetary Fund experts closely follows last week's surprise decision by Portugal's constitutional court to strike down a government plan for civil servants to accept new postings or face losing their jobs.

Coelho said the decision may force Portugal into seeking a second bailout programme, but he added on Sunday that the government would quickly find an alternative to the struck down programme that was to help the government save 894 million euros ($1.18 billion) over three years.

The EU-IMF team, representing the so-called "troika" of creditors that also includes the European Central Bank, had been expected to begin work in July.

But the surprise resignation of Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar, threw the government of Pedro Passos Coelho into disarray and on the verge of collapse.

Portugal has pushed through of a series of strict austerity programmes in exchange of a 78-billion-euro ($103 billion) bailout agreed in May 2011.

While the country was at first considered a better student of bailout programmes ordered by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, anger at home has grown sharply in recent months.


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