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Greece to Repay IMF Bailout-Era Debt Two Years Early

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Greece to repay all bailout debt to the IMF “in the next couple of weeks.” Credit: Simon D. McCourtie, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Greece will repay its bailout-era debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April, some two years early, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras announced on Saturday.

Speaking on Skai TV, Staikouras said that the final payment will be made “in the next couple of weeks.”

He stressed that the early repayment of 8 billion euros bailout debts to the IMF “will benefit Greek taxpayers by 250 million” ($276 million).

Greece has been ramping up its payment schedule as it looks to refresh its image on bond markets after a decade-long financial crisis.

Athens was forced to accept several international bailouts after borrowing on international debt markets became prohibitively expensive.

Earlier in March, the EU’s European Stability Mechanism confirmed that outstanding loans totaling 1.86 billion euros ($2 billion) can be settled early, waving an obligation for loans to the bloc to be made in parallel.

“[This] sends a positive signal to markets about Greece’s financing position. It will also have a positive impact on Greece’s public debt profile and will generate some savings for the Greek budget,” ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling said in a statement.

Greece has completed the early repayment of the high-interest part of an outstanding IMF loan worth 2.7 billion euros ($2.9 billion) in 2019.

A statement by the Finance Ministry at the time said that the repayment improves Greece’s creditworthiness and reduces the cost of borrowing and the amount of future installments. It also improves the public debt’s liability and further enhances international markets’ confidence in Greece.

Greece still has the EU’s highest public debt to GDP ratio

After enduring a deep crisis from 2009-2019, Greece still has the EU’s highest public debt to GDP ratio.

Official forecasts put the 2022 figure at 189.6 percent of GDP from 197.1 percent in 2021 and 206.3 percent a year earlier.

Ratings agency Fitch revised its forecast for Greece upwards from stable to positive at the start of the year, albeit before the conflict in Ukraine erupted.

It noted a combination of stronger growth than expected and falling debt as pandemic-linked state aid reduces substantially.

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