Greece told to start sell­ing as­sets

Pres­sure from the EU and IMF keeps build­ing to kick-start sell-off plan; min­istry ap­points ad­vis­ers

Kathimerini English - - Business & Finance -

Greece needs to quickly step up the pace of re­forms to its econ­omy if the Euro­pean Union-led pro­gram isn’t to run off track, Poul Thom­sen, head of the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund’s Greek mis­sion, said yes­ter­day.

“The Greek pro­gram has largely achieved what it set out to do,” Thom­sen said at a con­fer­ence. “It won’t re­main on track with­out rein­vig­o­ra­tion of struc­tural re­forms. With­out this it will run off track.”

Thom­sen said he ex­pected the econ­omy would shrink about 1 per­cent more than ex­pected this year and that an ac­cel­er­a­tion of struc­tural re­forms in the pub­lic sec­tor, among oth­ers, was needed to keep the deficit down. “With­out this ac­cel­er­a­tion, the deficit won’t be much be­low 10 per­cent in 2011,” he said. Re­gard­ing Greece’s 50-bil­lion-euro pri­va­ti­za­tion prgram, Thom­sen said that Greece needs to pick up the pace. “Pri­va­ti­za­tion makes a real dif­fer­ence. If tar­gets can be met, it will make change to debt sus­tain­abil­ity.”

Thom­sen said the fact that Greece may not be able to tap mar­kets for fund­ing early next year, as planned un­der the EU-led bailout, “re­flects de­vel­op­ments that are ex­ter­nal to Greece.”

“Now, with ac­cel­er­ated re­form and clar­ity on the Euro­pean mech­a­nism, spreads will come down but maybe not by early next year,” he said.

His com­ments came af­ter re­newed pres­sure on Athens from Euro­pean Union lead­ers to sell off prized as­sets if the coun­try wants to seek ad­di­tional aid and avoid de­fault.

To get its fi­nances back into shape, Greece will have to adopt fresh aus- ter­ity mea­sures “within a few days” and “will have to pri­va­tize to an ex­tent that goes be­yond the imag­i­na­tion, even a Greek one,” Jean-Claude Juncker, pres­i­dent of the Eurogroup, said late on Tues­day.

“I have ar­rived at the con­clu­sion that Greece must mobilize, by pri­va­tiz­ing a large part of its pat­ri­mony to make its debt sus­tain­able in the medium term,’ he said.

Speak­ing to the Lis­bon Coun­cil think tank in Brus­sels, Juncker stressed that any con­sid­er­a­tion of a “soft re­struc­tur­ing of Greek debt” de- pended on Greece “rapidly” ex­e­cut­ing the 50-bil­lion-euro sell-off plan it has al­ready com­mit­ted it­self to.

“The Greek cri­sis is in­com­pa­ra­bly more dif­fi­cult to re­solve than the other two,” the Lux­em­bourg premier said, re­fer­ring to Por­tu­gal and Ire­land, the other bailed-out coun­tries in the eu­ro­zone.

Mean­while, the gov­ern­ment in Athens an­nounced yes­ter­day a se­ries of banks to ad­vise it on state as­set sales and real es­tate de­vel­op­ment plans that aim to raise 50 bil­lion eu­ros to pay down debt.

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