IMF chief checks ru­mors

La­garde tells Schaeu­ble Fund aims to con­tinue par­tic­i­pa­tion in Greek pro­gram

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

In an ap­par­ent bid to put a stop to spec­u­la­tion about the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund with­draw­ing con­clu­sively from Greece’s res­cue pro­gram, the head of the Fund, Chris­tine La­garde, told Ger­man Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble that the IMF planned to con­tinue its par­tic­i­pa­tion.

“Mrs La­garde again re­as­sured the fi­nance min­is­ter that the IMF is par­tic­i­pat­ing con­struc­tively in the on­go­ing dis­cus­sions and con­tin­ues to work for a quick agree­ment on full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the res­cue pro­gram, in­clud­ing funds from the IMF,” La­garde’s spokesman said fol­low­ing the talks be­tween the IMF chief and Schaeu­ble at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos.

The com­ment came af­ter Schaeu­ble turned up the heat on the Greek gov­ern­ment, warn­ing in an in­ter­view that if Athens and its cred­i­tors con­clude the sec­ond re­view of Greece’s bailout with­out the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the IMF then it will be highly un­likely that the Ger­man par­lia­ment will ap­prove an­other pro­gram to re­place the cur­rent one. In com­ments to Bloomberg, Schaeu­ble said the Greek pro­gram was from “its be­gin­ning in 2010 based on the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the IMF” and that re­fusal of the Fund to join the third bailout would be a sign that the Greeks are not ful­fill­ing their com­mit­ments and would not con­vince Ger­man MPs who face elec­tions this fall.

There had been no of­fi­cial com­ment from the Greek gov­ern­ment on the state­ments of ei­ther Schaeu­ble or La­garde by late last night, point­ing to a shift in tac­tics from ear­lier this month, when gov­ern­ing of­fi­cials had crossed swords with Ger­man of­fi­cials over the IMF’s role and the need for fur­ther aus­ter­ity.

Now, fol­low­ing Schaeu­ble’s strong-arm tac­tics, it ap­pears the gov­ern­ment will have lit­tle choice but to leg­is­late some of the mea­sures that the IMF is de­mand­ing – such as the low­er­ing of the tax-free thresh­old and fur­ther changes to the on­go­ing re­form of the pen­sion sys­tem.

More de­tails about the IMF’s con­di­tions for in­volve­ment are ex­pected to emerge in a re­port due to be pub­lished this week. Leaked ex­tracts from the draft called for fur­ther re­duc­tions in pen­sions and an abo­li­tion of tax breaks.

Greek of­fi­cials hope to con­vince rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the coun­try’s cred­i­tors to re­sume a stalled re­view at a Eurogroup meet­ing on Jan­uary 26.

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