IMF: Greece hasn’t sought financial aid at fund
Greece hasn’t sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, said a fund official who reiterated that the IMF stands ready to help the country if asked.
“We have not had a request for financial assistance,” Caroline Atkinson, the IMF’s director of external relations, said today in a briefing with reporters in Washington.
“It’s still true,” she said, when asked whether the fund is ready to respond to a request from Greece for a loan.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, speaking to reporters today in Brussels, set a one-week deadline for the European Union to craft a financial aid mechanism for Greece, challenging Germany to give up its doubts about a rescue package.
Atkinson repeated that the IMF is providing Greece “technical assistance,” as the country tries to resolve a fiscal crisis. “We expect the euro-zone countries to want to, and to plan to, resolve this question by themselves,” she said.
Papandreou said he may turn to the IMF to overcome the debt crisis unless leaders agree to set up a lending facility at a summit March 25-26.
The IMF option has already been dismissed by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who say it would show the EU can’t solve its own crises.
Speaking generally about the IMF’s ability to help governments in crisis, Atkinson said “sometimes we can move very quickly, sometimes there are things that can hold us up -- it just depends on the nature of the country.”
Greece, which was brought to a standstill on March 11 by the second general strike this year, needs to raise about €10bn to refinance bonds that come due on April 20 and May 19. Papandreou said current market rates are unsustainable.
Responding to questions from reporters, Atkinson also said China’s yuan “appears to us to be substantially undervalued” and that “what’s important is to think about the rebalancing of China’s economy.”
She also said an Icesave agreement in Iceland is “not a condition of our program, but we do have to be sure with this program, as with any other, that we have financing assurances in place before we go ahead.”