IMF to send mission to Greece in February

The International Monetary Fund will send a staff mission to Greece next month to assess the country’s performance under an austerity program backed by an international rescue, an IMF spokesman said Thursday.

The IMF mission will begin discussions in Athens with Greek and European Union officials in late February, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said at a news briefing.

Rice said the IMF mission was expected to wrap up «around mid-March.”

The IMF unblocked a 3.2 billion euro payment to Greece on January 16, lagging European Union aid disbursements amid concerns about Greece’s lack of progress in structural reforms demanded under the bailout program.

Rice said it was too soon to speculate about another IMF installment of aid, since the latest disbursement was so recent.

“We should give some time now for implementation to take place,» he said.

In mid-January Poul Thomsen, the IMF’s mission chief for Greece, said that Greece would need additional help from its European partners as soon as next year to bring its huge debt under control.

“There is a gap according to our preliminary projections for 2015-2016» of up to «9.5 billion (euros),» he said.

Under IMF policy, the program needs to be fully financed for the 12 months ahead.

The EU and IMF have committed a total of 240 billion euros in rescue loans to Greece since 2010, but with its economy entering a sixth year of recession it is still having trouble making budget ends meet.

Despite two EU-IMF bailouts as well as a private-sector debt cut, the continuing recession and deficits mean that Greece’s debt mountain is set to continue to rise to 190 percent of output in 2014.

The IMF has been pressing Europe to do more to resolve the Greek debt crisis, after the Fund extended its Greek rescue loan to four years from three years and lowered the interest charged on it.


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