ECONOMY

EU, IMF tell Greece to start selling assets fast

Greece needs to accelerate its program of state asset sales to reduce the country?s debt, said Poul Thomsen, head of the IMF?s Greek mission.

?Privatization makes a real difference,? Thomsen told a conference on Wednesday. ?If targets can be met, it will make a 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, adding that the country needs to quickly step up the pace of reforms to its economy if the EU-led program isn?t to run off track.

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 austerity measures ‘within a few days’ and ‘will have to privatise to an extent that goes beyond the imagination, even a Greek one,’ Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker said late on Tuesday

‘I have arrived at the conclusion that Greece must mobilise, by privatising it, a large part of its patrimony to make its debt sustainable on a 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’ depended on Greece ‘rapidly’ executing the 50-billion-euro sell-off plan it 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.