Greece, creditors take time out to attend IMF spring meet

epa05200371 European Investment Bank (EIB) President, Werner Hoyer (L) and Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos talk during an Ecofin Finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 08 March 2016. The Council will aim to reach a political agreement on the proposed amendment to the directive on mandatory exchange of information in the field of taxation.  EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET


Greece will take a one-week break in bailout review discussions with its creditors, after failing to reach an initial agreement, as officials from the Greek government, the euro area and the International Monetary Fund fly to Washington to attend IMF meetings.
Officials decided to “pause,” so they can all go to Washington, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said in e-mailed statement early
“We will conclude a staff level agreement shortly before the April 22 Eurogroup meeting,” Tsakalotos said.
Greece is targeting a staff-level deal with its creditors before the meeting of euro-area finance ministers so that discussions about debt relief can begin immediately after that. Talks continued in Athens over the past week with a number of issues remaining open, including pension reform, taxation and management of non-performing loans.
“We fully agree with the IMF on the need for a strong policy package. The aim of this discussion is the conclusion of the first review of the MoU and a new program with the IMF,” European Central Bank Executive Board Member Benoit Coeure said on Tuesday.
“Despite the optimistic message echoed by several government officials in the last few days over an interim agreement document ahead of the creditors’ departure from Athens, it appears there was not enough convergence between the two sides with key stumbling blocks remaining the NPL framework, the income-tax-free threshold and the extent of reductions on supplementary pensions,” Eurobank Equities said in a note to clients on Tuesday.
“There was significant progress on a lot of issues,” Tsakalotos said today after meeting the mission chiefs from the European Union’s executive arm, the ECB and the IMF in Athens.
There was no time to discuss lots of other smaller issues needed to conclude an initial agreement by early today as most officials wanted to leave for Washington, he said.
While the goal “is to conclude talks as soon as possible,” the ball is in Greece’s court, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said Monday, adding that an accord is possible in the “next few days or weeks.”

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