Greece’s loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expires in March 2016, the Fund’s spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday.
Speaking at a Washington press conference, Rice said the IMF has not been officially notified by the Greek government of a “possible early termination” of Greece’s fiscal program at the end of the current year.
“As far as I know the issue was never raised,” Rice said, adding the emphasis is now placed on the program’s sixth review. The issue of an early exit for Greece will not be discussed in the upcoming meetings of the troika of Greece ‘s lenders with Greek officials, he added.
He also said countries participate in IMF programs on a purely voluntary basis.
Asked whether Greece could proceed with its reform programme alone, Rice said the IMF wants to do what’s best in cooperation with the Greek government, so that the people of Greece can exit the crisis “as soon as possible.”
Rice reiterated the Fund’s position that it has seen progress in some areas of the program. Emphasis is now placed on the upcoming review.
Outlining the remaining milestones, Rice said an IMF team headed by Rishi Goyal will begin talks in Athens on “key issues” – the 2015 budget and non-performing loans – on September 30. “Later in autumn,” the “full IMF team” will return to Greece (after the annual IMF meeting in Washington) for the sixth program review.
Asked if Poul Thomsen would be part of the team, Rice said Thomsen has been appointed Director of the IMF’s European department and his plans do not include a trip to Athens, though Rice added that he’s ready to help if needed.
Commenting on a recent interview with the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, in which she claimed that she received “threats” against her life when she spoke of tax evasion in Greece, Rice said threats appeared in social networks a few years ago, after which Lagarde strengthened her security measures.
He also confirmed that Lagarde received a letter from the Greek justice minister requesting more information on possible threats received.
Asked to comment on Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos’ view that the IMF’s interest rate paid by Greece on its loan is higher than the rate offered by markets, Rice said he was not ready to comment on the issue and promised to reply soon.