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HELSINKI, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Greece's plan for a one-off payout to pensioners before Christmas has not been consulted with the country's lenders and raises questions if Athens can return to markets before the end of the bailout, the head of the euro zone bailout fund ESM said.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Thursday his government would spend 617 million euros in one-off benefits for low-income pensioners ahead of Christmas, after Greece exceeded its 2016 primary surplus target.
"I expect it (Greece) to be able to return to the bond market well before the end of the programme in August 2018, provided that it implements the necessary reforms," ESM's Klaus Regling said in a speech in Helsinki on Friday.
"In this context, the announcements made last night by the Greek Prime Minister without consultation with the institutions raise a number of questions," he said. (Writing By Jan Strupczewski)