Sunday 11 December 2016

IMF urges massive debt relief to save Greece

Renee Maltezou in Athens

Published 15/07/2015 | 02:30

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble

A SECRET IMF report warns that Greece needs far more debt relief than European governments have been willing to concede.

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The IMF study said European countries would have to give Greece a 30-year grace period on servicing all its European debt, including new loans, and a dramatic maturity extension.

The alternatives are to make annual transfers to the Greek budget or accept "deep upfront haircuts" on existing loans.

An EU source said eurozone finance ministers and leaders had been aware of the IMF figures when they agreed on Monday on a roadmap to a third bailout.

The Debt Sustainability Analysis is likely to sharpen fierce debate in Germany about whether to lend Greece more money. The debt analysis also raised questions over future IMF involvement in the bailout and will be seen by many in Greece as a vindication of the government's plea for sweeping debt relief.

A Greek newspaper called the report, which was initially leaked, a slap in the face for Berlin.

A senior IMF source said late last night: "We have made it clear ... we need a concrete and ambitious solution to the debt problem.

"I don't think this is a gimmick or kicking the can down the road ... If you were to give them 30 years' grace you are allowing them in the meantime to bring down debt by ... getting some growth back."

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Brussels yesterday that some members of the Berlin government think it would make more sense for Athens to leave the eurozone temporarily rather than take another bailout.

The Greek Finance Ministry said it had submitted the legislation required by a deal Mr Tsipras reached with eurozone partners on Monday to parliament for a vote today.

Assuming Athens fulfils its end of the bargain this week by enacting a swathe of painful measures, the German parliament is due to meet in a special session on Friday to debate whether to authorise the government to open new loan negotiations.

"The dramatic deterioration in debt sustainability points to the need for debt relief on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date - and what has been proposed by the ESM," the IMF said, referring to the European Stability Mechanism bailout fund.

Irish Independent

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