ECONOMY

Talk on IMF solution picks up

Talk that Greece may need to seek financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund has been bandied about once again, on growing signs that European Union leaders are not prepared to step in and help solve Greece’s debt crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government yesterday left open whether Germany will throw its weight behind a role for the IMF in any rescue for Greece. «Greece has not asked for financial support,» Germany’s chief government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told reporters in Berlin. «No decision is needed.» Germany is confident that Greece can refinance its debt and «there’s no need for any statement right now» on possible outside aid, he said. Merkel favors calling in the IMF as emergency lender if Greece fails to refinance in April, according to German press reports. Asked which EU countries support an IMF role, German Finance Ministry spokesman Michael Offer said Greece «is in a good position to get a grip on the problems itself» and «there’s no room for speculation» on what may happen otherwise. He didn’t comment specifically on the IMF. Italy, Finland and the Netherlands are also believed to favor bringing the International Monetary Fund on board if Greece needs aid. Greek authorities had been looking for an unambiguous expression of EU support to enable the government to borrow funds on financial markets at rates comparable to its European partners. «Nobody wants to go to the IMF… [but] it will be a forced option if there is no other proposal until then,» Greek government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said yesterday, referring to the European Union contingency plan and to an EU summit on March 25. «We need to borrow from somewhere, but not at the interest rates at which we have borrowed so far,» he insisted. «If we truly come to believe that the EU cannot affect [loan rates] then we should re-evaluate the EU’s role in current world affairs,» he said.