WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Following are highlights of comments by financial leaders attending the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings on Saturday.
GREEK FINANCE MINISTER GEORGE PAPACONSTANTINOU:
"This is not just wishful thinking, we are seeing some very encouraging first indicators that we're nearing a turnaround. ... There's still a lot of hard work ahead. We're starting to turn a corner and this is very positive."
ON DEBT RESTRUCTURING RUMORS:
"There is also an official clarification of the German government that this is not the position of the government and it not the position of the Greek government and it is not the position of the institutions supporting the program. Full stop."
ON WHY IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO RESTRUCTURE:
"The negative reasons why we won't go through a restructuring exercise is because the pain and the cost is bigger than the benefit."
ON HIGHER INTEREST RATES:
"Any increase in interest rates may be driven by concerns about inflation...It has effects on borrowing costs, there's no question about that. However, do bear in mind that Greek borrowing costs, the part, the increase in interest rate is very small. The biggest part has to do with the spread. If market confidence returns, this will more than outweigh any increase in interest rate costs."
ON GREECE'S DEBT SITUATION AND ECONOMY
"We are starting to turn the corner and this is very positive, even though unemployment is going up."
"No one should underestimate the determination of the Greek government."
"The negative reason why we won't go through the restructuring process is that the pain and the cost is greater than the benefit."
"There are a lot of rumors going on at the moment."
"We want to front load the programme."
"We will go through an open tender process."
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE:
ON REPORT OF GERMAN DEBT RESTRUCTURING PLAN FOR GREECE:
"This report is without any basis"
ON ECB SUCCESSION:
"The German government has agreed to decide in near future"
ECB'S AXEL WEBER:
ON GERMANY'S DEFICIT:
"If the economic development is a little better, the deficit rate of two percent is in sight."
ON ECB MONETARY POLICY:
"My opinion is that the present direction of the ECB monetary policy ... is still helping the recovery and is expansive."
"We have to expect a further normalisation of the monetary policy."
"I expect that for us as central banks a further reduction of the supporting measures and special measures for the banks will be coming on the agenda in the course of this year."
U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER
ON FOOD PRICES AND SUPPLY
"The Bank and other multilateral institutions, working with low-income countries, have an important role to play in mitigating the impact of food price volatility on the poorest."
"In addition to...rapid response programs, it is critical that the international community pursue longer-term actions to improve resilience to supply shocks, particularly as global food supplies will have to increase by an estimated 50 percent over the next 20 years to meet projected demand."
ON ASSISTING POLITICAL TRANSITION IN TUNISIA, EGYPT
"The IBRD and IFC, in particular, have a central role to play on behalf of the international community, both in bringing their substantial financial resources to bear and in providing the smart and targeted investments that can best support these new transitions....and in direct support of democratization in these countries, the MDBs should, as President Zoellick has articulated, do more to promote a robust civil society, as well as good, accountable, and transparent governance."
IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN
"We have built - let's talk about the Greek program - with the government with the assumption that the government really wants not to restructure their debt and to repay it."
"Nothing has changed.
"The market can talk for hours about the usefulness of doing this or doing that. So far we are working with the programme as it is established. For it to work, we need the country to do exactly as it should, even if it is difficult."
IMFC CHAIR THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM
ON INFLATION RISKS
"It is a concern. It is one of the emerging risks we see on the horizon."
ON ASIAN CREDIT GROWTH
"It is a concern. It is one of the emerging risks that we see on the horizon and the combination of strong credit growth and some economies that are approaching an overheating situation, when taken together with the possibility of supply shocks in the commodities sphere, raise very significant concerns over inflation as well as over a possible rise in interest rates."
MEXICAN FINANCE MINISTER ERNESTO CORDERO:
ON MEXICO AND IMBALANCES:
"We have no doubt that in Mexico's particular case, we don't exhibit any imbalances in any of the indicators, whether external, fiscal or internal. So I don't believe Mexico ... would merit us being submitted to any more detailed second round review.
ON IMPACT OF VIOLENCE ON INVESTMENT:
"Without a doubt in certain parts of the country (violence) could be creating some obstacles to investments. But at an aggregate national level there's no evidence that it's having an impact."
ON CAPITAL CONTROLS:
"The IMF has made clear that it's not a policy that it recommends, particularly before all other avenues are exhausted. It should be used only as a last resort. Thankfully there are only a few countries considering these measures."
U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER:
ON INTENTION TO CUT FISCAL DEFICITS:
"We are committed to fiscal reforms that will restrain spending and reduce deficits while not threatening the economic recovery."
ON WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT IMF SURVEILLANCE OF POLICIES:
"We welcome continued IMF surveillance of our fiscal and monetary policies.
However, others, especially those whose fundamentals call for greater exchange rate flexibility, must also contribute."
ON IMF'S ROLE IN DEVELOPING FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING INFLOWS:
"The IMF's proposed framework to provide coherent and transparent advice to members on managing capital inflows is a good start. We agree with the guidelines' articulation of a hierarchy of policy measures to be employed in the face of inflows before turning to capital controls as a temporary and inefficient last resort. The Fund could increase capital account coverage in its bilateral and multilateral surveillance and build consensus on a framework for managing capital inflows that would inform Article IV consultations."
ON NEED TO ALLOW IMF TO MONITOR FOREX REGIMES:
"Stepped-up surveillance should include greater independence to publish IMF analysis, such as the Fund's estimates of equilibrium exchange rates, recommendations for how to preempt the emergence of large imbalances, and advice on the appropriate use of prudential tools."