Greece says IMF delaying talks on austerity compliance

AP News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2016 11:33 AM

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's finance minister blamed the International Monetary Fund on Thursday for delays in the latest review of the country's compliance with austerity measures it is required to make as part of its bailout program.

Top-level negotiations on the review started early February, and were suspended a month ago. Euclid Tsakalotos expressed concern at the delay, but said he is "quite optimistic" that a solution can be found.

The review needs to be completed before Greece can get more bailout funds and will clear the way for debt relief negotiations with creditors.

Tsakalotos told Parliament that Greece's positions are "very close" to those of its European creditors.

But he said that the IMF, which is also contributing to the bailout loans that have kept the country afloat since 2010, is pressing Greece to further cut pensions.

"Not because it thinks that our proposal for pension reform is not serious," Tsakalotos said. "But it believes that the numbers don't add up to achieve a 3.5 percent primary surplus in 2018." A primary surplus is the state's net intakes, when not counting the cost of financing debt.

Greece has committed to post a 3.5 percent primary surplus in two years.

Tsakalotos insisted that his government will accept no more pension cuts — after 11 such reductions since 2010 — and rejected the IMF's calculations.

He said the IMF is also pressing the European creditors to take stronger action to address the country's crippling debt load.

Greece signed a third bailout deal worth about 80 billion euros last summer. The leftwing government initially pledged to fight austerity and end its extant bailouts, but was forced to accept a third rescue package after being threatened with bankruptcy and expulsion from the eurozone.