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IMF Not Asking for Additional Austerity in Greece, Spokesman Gerry Rice Says

Gerry Rice_IMFThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) welcomes the adoption of short-term measures for Greece’s debt but these may not be enough to make the Greek debt sustainable in the medium- and long-term, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said during the regular press briefing on Thursday. He also repeated the IMF’s position in favor of lower primary surplus targets for Greece. “A primary budget surplus of 3.5 pct of GDP will bring additional austerity measures for the Greek people, which is something we don’t want,” he said.
Replying to questions, he repeated that the IMF would prefer to see lower primary surplus targets for Greece, around 1.5% of GDP, as well as debt relief. “There should not be any doubt about the IMF’s position,” he said. Such a target would be realistic and involve less austerity for the Greek people, Rice said. The IMF was not asking for additional austerity, Rice added, but if the Europeans and Greece decide on a higher and more ambitious primary surplus target, the IMF’s backing would require that this is supported with additional structural reforms. “As the IMF, we must ensure that there are measures for 3.5% [of GDP primary surplus],” he said, noting that the current programme agreed between Greece and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) envisaged measures that, based on IMF calculations, would result in a primary surplus of 1.5%.
Rice said that talks on the IMF’s participation in the Greek programme were taking place on a daily basis via teleconferences and that the Fund needed reliable forecasts. Regarding the disagreements with the European institutions in the Greek programme, he said these were “natural.” Other financial assistance programmes involving the IMF and other agencies eventually resulted in an agreement, he pointed out. He repeated the IMF’s full commitment to the talks and to achieving an agreement as soon as possible, while noting that there were no disagreements within the IMF’s ranks. “We speak with one voice,” he said, adding that the IMF had set no deadline for achieving an agreement but was striving for credible policies and debt relief.
(source: ana-mpa)

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