NEWS

Premier urges Greece to get real about IMF

Prime Minister George Papandreou admitted yesterday that the International Monetary Fund is already overseeing the Greek economy, as the government gets ever closer to the moment that it will request an emergency loan from the IMF. Addressing Parliament, the premier attempted to dispel any illusions that MPs or the public might have about Greece’s position and the influence the Washington-based fund could have on its economic policy. «Let’s not kid ourselves; we should be totally honest: The International Monetary Fund is already in the process of monitoring Greece.» Greece is set to be given 10 to 15 billion euros by the IMF and will likely draw another 30 billion in emergency loans from its eurozone partners. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou did not request the money yesterday during a meeting in Madrid of all 16 members of the single currency. But Papandreou indicated that it is virtually an inevitability that Greece will have to ask for help if it is to avoid crippling interest rates on its borrowing or, even worse, bankruptcy. «As a result of the choices made by the previous New Democracy government, the country was heading straight to the IMF,» he said. «We managed to secure a European presence. I simply wanted to protect Greece from bankruptcy. «The measures we have taken hurt, but think of what would have happened if we had gone bankrupt… the average Greek and the weak would have been hurt.» Papandreou also revealed that although the IMF has not yet given Greece any money, it will be checking the country’s economic policies in 2011 and 2012. Apart from the Popular Orthodox Rally, the other parties decried the government’s decision to turn to the IMF. The leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), Alexis Tsipras, said it was «a humiliating day» for Greece. Three in four Greeks think that the economy is the country’s most significant problem, according to a Public Issue poll for Kathimerini and Skai Radio and TV. The survey also suggested that two in three voters are unhappy with the government but that 82 percent are not satisfied with the opposition parties. Only 6 percent think that a New Democracy government would be better for Greece.