Gov’t official lashes out at IMF

Gov’t official lashes out at IMF

A senior government official continued Athens’s attack on the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, accusing it of “ideological obsessions and inaccuracies” and delaying the completion of the bailout review because it has not yet decided whether it will participate in the program.

“The drip-by-drip tranche tactics are Shylock behavior,” Frangiskos Koutentakis, general secretary in charge of fiscal policy of the Finance Ministry, said, comparing the Fund to the character from Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice.” “They are responsible because they want to get us to the edge of the cliff. They create and maintain uncertainty” over whether the review will be concluded or not, he added.

This follows last week’s attack aimed at the IMF by unnamed sources at the Finance Ministry on the tax-free threshold.

Koutentakis went on to say that the Fund’s officials “do not realize that this is a country they are dealing with,” adding that it is to blame for the delay in reaching an agreement with the creditors. “We keep telling them that uncertainty costs the real economy dearly, but they pretend they do not understand and issue recommendations about which expenditures we should cut,” he stated.

The Finance Ministry official also asserted that the creditors’ technical experts had often proposed delaying the payment of public sector salaries and pensions if the necessary resources for the coverage of the country’s obligations were not there.

Koutentakis said that Greece has no cash problem at the moment, but added that “if we ever have a dilemma between the payment of pensions and the repayment of the debt, we will pay the pensions.”

Koutentakis said the Fund estimates that 2015 closed with primary deficit of 0.6 percent of the gross domestic product, while official data point to a primary surplus of at least 0.2 percent. “They dispute our figures without even explaining to us how they calculate theirs,” he lashed out, arguing that “they are full of inaccuracies.”

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