ECONOMY

More help from IMF if needed

The International Monetary Fund stands ready to provide Greece with more aid if the country asks for it, the fund’s European Department Director, Antonio Borges, said on Thursday.

Asked whether there could be new aid package for Greece to help it work through its fiscal recovery programme, 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.

The austerity-dependent programme 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, he said.

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.

“All IMF programmes are based on debt sustainability, so as long as a programme is in place that means that the IMF believes Greek debt is sustainable,» he said, adding that the country could sell more state assets to get on top of its massive debt pile.

?The government has an extraordinarily large portfolio of assets? and 50 billion euros ?is less than 20 percent of all assets that the Greeks could privatize,? Borges said. The balance sheet of the government?s Real Estate Development Company amounts to 280 billion euros, he said. ?I?m only signaling that we are talking about a low percentage of the total.?