IMF releases $2.86b for Greece under bailout programme

 WASHINGTON (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF)  released 1.74 billion euros (S$2.86 billion) in fresh funds for Greece on Friday after the country passed the third review of its performance under the joint IMF-European Union (EU)  bailout programme.

Earlier Friday the European Financial Stability Facility also released another aid installment, worth 7.2 billion euros, to help recapitalise Greece's stricken banks.

The funding is part of the 173-billion-euro, four-year programme to put Athens's finances on a stable path. The IMF so far has released 6.57 billion euros to Greece under the programme.

Under tough austerity dictated by the programme, Greek economic growth continues to sag, challenging its ability to meet benchmarks set by the European Union and the IMF.

In Athens on Friday, the head of eurozone finance ministers said the group could discuss further debt relief for Greece next April if the government continues to meet the conditions of its recovery programme.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem stressed that it was "crucial" for Greece to continue with its structural reforms as he held out hope for a long-awaited exit from a six-year recession.

"We have the first signals of the return of the economy... for economic recovery next year," he said.