The International Monetary Fund on Friday said Greece would receive the IMF contribution to the second instalment of its bailout loan, noting that the country had made a “strong start” in its recovery programme.

The announcement came just days after finance ministers from the 16-country euro area approved their part of the second instalment.

All told, Greece is receiving a little more than 9 billion euros (11.4 billion dollars) in this tranche: 6.5 billion euros from the eurozone and 2.57 billion euros from the IMF.

Faced with a burgeoning budget deficit, Greece was saved from default in May by fellow euro area members, which agreed to lend Athens 80 billion euros over three years. The IMF pledged 30 billion euros.

The IMF said that “major structural reforms” were ahead of schedule in Greece, and that its “fiscal strategy” was “on track.” It noted in particular the “substantive labour market reform.” Changes in retirement age and privatization of publicly owned firms have triggered months of strikes in the Mediterranean country.

In July, despite massive protests, the Greek government pushed back the retirement age from 58 years to 65 years.

The IMF said that priority must now go to “opening closed professions, moving forward with deregulation, implementing the services directive, and eliminating barriers to tourism and retail trade.” Greece received its first share of bailout money worth 20 billion euros in May.

The payment of each successive instalment is dependent on the country sticking to an austerity programme that aims to reduce its deficit from around 14 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 to the European Union-mandated limit of 3 per cent by 2014.

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