ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece expects to reach a deal with its lenders to free up the next tranche of bailout cash by Monday, its finance minister said on Thursday.
The lenders have threatened to freeze the 8.1 billion euro payment if Greece fails to demonstrate it can keep promises to overhaul its public sector while Greek officials have said it could be doled out in stages.
Euro zone finance ministers are due to decide at a meeting on Monday whether to deliver the tranche.
Yannis Stournaras reported "progress on all fronts" during talks on Thursday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and inspectors from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Cental Bank.
"Talks will continue tonight, tomorrow, the day after and on Sunday," Stournaras said. "We are heading for agreement on Monday."
Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the talks were "tough". "It's necessary to reach an agreement on the public sector issues," he said.
The scheduled payment is one of the last big cash injections Greece is due to receive before its 240-billion-euro bailout expires at the end of 2014.
The EU and the IMF have become increasingly impatient with the slow progress the country has made on downsizing a bloated civil service and making it less corrupt and more efficient.
They have pressured Athens to reassure them by Friday that it can deliver on its promises, so that the aid tranche can be approved.
Athens missed a June deadline to put 12,500 state workers into a scheme to transfer or lay them off within a year, and Greek officials have said they cannot meet targets set by the troika of lenders on public sector reform as they stand.
Other open issues with the troika include lowering the target of a patchy privatization program and plugging a 1 billion euro hole in healthcare fund EOPYY.
Samaras has ruled out piling more austerity on a population that has suffered steep cuts to wages and pensions. A deep recession is in its sixth year and unemployment stands at nearly 27 percent.
Greece needs the latest aid tranche to redeem about 2.2 billion euros of bonds in August, though a Greek official has told Reuters that in a worst-case scenario Athens could make up for any delay in payments by selling additional treasury bills.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Writing by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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