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EU-IMF creditors approve Portugal bailout plan: government

Portugal’s international lenders have approved the country’s performance under its 78-billion-euro bailout agreement six months before the programme is set to end, the government said Monday.

The green light from the “troika” of lenders — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — paves the way for the indebted eurozone nation to receive the next tranche of 2.7 billion euros in financial aid from its bailout.

“The tenth evaluation from ‘the troika’ has been positive. Portugal has passed ten out of 12 evaluations, there are just two left,” Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas told a news conference.

A team of experts from the “troika” visited Portugal at the beginning of the month to assess the country’s implementation of the reforms and austerity measures it agreed to carry out in exchange for the bailout.

“It was a very quiet mission which confirms that we are on the right path to conclude the programme under the expected timeframe,” Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque told the news conference.

Portugal has so far received 71.4 billion euros of the 78 billion euros which the “troika” agreed to led the country in May 2011 under a programme that is slated to end in June next year.

The country’s centre-right coalition government hopes it can exit its bailout as planned in mid-2014 and return to financing itself fully in debt markets although it has said it expects to request some sort of precautionary loan from creditors after that.

During the last review, the troika denied Portugal’s bid for an easing of the country’s 2014 public deficit reduction target from 4.0 percent to 4.5 percent of GDP.

The government approved a budget for 2014 which aims to save 3.9 billion euros.