Brazil’s IMF rep recalled, criticism of Greek program described as ‘unfortunate’ by Fund chief

Brazil is calling home its International Monetary Fund representative who went against the government and abstained from a vote to lend more to Greece, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said today.

The minister asked Paulo Nogueira Batista to return home and discuss why he abstained without consulting Brazil’s government, Mantega told reporters in Brasilia, adding the representative will keep his job. Mantega spoke with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde today, expressed support for the latest disbursement under a joint IMF-euro area loan, and said Batista spoke without authorization from the government.

“It is most unfortunate that it happened in those circumstances but I am very pleased that the position of Brazil could be rectified and clarified at the highest level,” Lagarde told reporters in Washington today.

The IMF’s board on July 29 approved the release of 1.72 billion euros ($2.27 billion) to Greece, three days after the nation obtained 2.5 billion euros from euro-area governments as part of their rescue package. One of the conditions for the IMF funds was carrying forward a plan to dismiss 4,200 state employees. Greece is being subjected to a “draconian adjustment,” Batista wrote July 31 in a statement.

“Given the negative effects of the policies imposed on Greece and its population, the program ends up bringing risks to the integrity of the IMF,” Batista wrote in the statement, speaking on his own behalf and not that of the 11 countries he represents. “It is important that the Fund prepare a new program for Greece, with better conditions, so as to allow the country to emerge from the crisis.”

Greece’s debt burden is almost double the average of the 17-nation euro area, according to the European Union’s statistics office on July 22. First-quarter debt stood at 160.5 percent of gross domestic product. The cost of protecting Greek dollar-denominated government bonds against losses for five years has risen 126 basis points over the past month, the most of any nation in the world.