More aus­ter­ity for more aid

Ger­many’s Schaeu­ble says Athens will have to take ex­tra mea­sures be­fore get­ting ad­di­tional funds

Kathimerini English - - Business & Finance -

Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble said yes­ter­day that Greece will have to carry out ex­tra sav­ings be­fore more in­ter­na­tional aid is freed up, putting more pres­sure on Athens to in­tro­duce fur­ther aus­ter­ity mea­sures.

Greece might re­ceive ad­di­tional help if a quar­terly as­sess­ment next month by Euro­pean of­fi­cials and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund shows that the gov­ern­ment’s sav­ings pro- gram is fall­ing short of tar­gets agreed on last year, Schaeu­ble said in Ber­lin.

“If it turns out that Greece can’t re­turn to the fi­nan­cial mar­kets on the time line laid out last year, then we have to talk about what ad­di­tional mea­sures Greece, first and fore­most, can take,” Schaeu­ble told lawmakers. “We won’t be able to agree to ad­di­tional mea­sures with­out clear con­di­tions.”

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s gov- ern­ment, the largest con­trib­u­tor to vic­tims of the sov­er­eign debt cri­sis, is tamp­ing down Greek ex­pec­ta­tions of a fur­ther bailout with­out strict terms in re­turn.

Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund said yes­ter­day it stands ready to pro­vide Greece with more aid if the coun­try asks for it, ac­cord­ing to the IMF’s Euro­pean Depart­ment di­rec­tor, An­to­nio Borges.

Asked whether there could be a new aid pack­age for Greece to help it work through its fis­cal re­cov­ery pro­gram, Borges said the IMF was open to the pos­si­bil­ity.

“The Greeks have to take the ini­tia­tive, and so far they have not ap­proached us. The IMF stands ready [to pro­vide ad­di­tional sup­port] as a mat­ter of pol­icy,” he told re­porters.

He said the aus­ter­ity-de­pen­dent pro­gram for Greece was “prob­a­bly the best thing that can hap­pen” to the coun­try, though there was al­ways the ques­tion of whether it was too am­bi­tious.

The Wash­ing­ton-based Fund’s views about Greece are be­ing closely watched ahead of next month’s key de­ci­sion on whether Athens re­ceives the next 12-bil­lion-euro tranche of its EU-IMF bailout.

Borges said the IMF be­lieved that Greece was not bank­rupt de­spite its high debts.

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