Poul Thomsen, director of the International Monetary Fund’s European department, on Friday spoke in favor of a broadening Greece’s tax base though he stopped short of determining whether the IMF would call for reductions to the tax-free threshold (due to come into effect in January 2020) to apply a year in advance.
Speaking in Washington, where the IMF is holding its Spring Meetings, Thomsen said that raising taxes had played a large part in the country’s fiscal adjustment in recent years but that Greece must find a way of meeting fiscal targets that is “growth-friendly.”
The IMF will not impose any specific policies, he said but proposed a “discussion” about the timing of tax reforms.
As regards the Fund’s potential role in Greece’s third international bailout, which expires in August, he said at least one bailout review must be carried out before a decision can be made as well as agreement to lighten Greece’s debt. “Time is running short for us to be able to activate the program,” he said.
A discussion on debt measures is likely to take place at the next meeting of eurozone finance ministers, scheduled for April 27 in Sofia. Talks there will also focus on a growth plan that the government has presented to bailout auditors.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Friday met in Washington with European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, Eurogroup Chairman Mario Centeno and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and is to meet Thomsen and IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Saturday.