Athens / AFP
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday that an EU-IMF audit of the debt-laden country’s reforms would likely resume by March 10, hinting that the process was being delayed by divisions among the creditors.
“My estimate is that (senior creditor representatives will) return in the first ten days of March,” Tsipras said in a televised interview.
“There must finally be agreement between the (creditors) so we can move forward,” he told Star TV.
Greece’s international creditors — the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — completed a first phase of the review nearly a month ago, but there has been little progress since.
A major sticking point is a pension reform planned by Tsipras’ leftist government which the IMF has found insufficient.
Tsipras on Tuesday said the IMF had to “return to reality” on the issue and decide whether it still wanted to be part of the rescue programme.
“There must be a return to reality on the part of the IMF if we are to move forward,” the Greek PM said.
“The IMF must be asked for a clear statement — either you agree with the programme and you stay, but with realistic targets, or if you don’t agree and you want to leave, tell us in a timely fashion.”
Tsipras noted that Greece could meet its financing needs without the IMF, pointing to a recapitalisation of Greek banks last year that was carried out with a fraction of the funds that had been originally earmarked.
“As we did not require €25 billion ($27 billion) as initially calculated but 5.7 billion.. (we can) meet our financing needs without the IMF’s presence.”
The IMF worked with the EU on two previous bailouts for Greece since 2010 but the Washington-based lender said it would not participate in the third rescue plan without credible reforms and an EU agreement to ease Greece’s debt burden.
The IMF’s European zone head had last month warned against “over-optimistic assumptions (which) will soon cause Grexit fears to resurface once again and stifle the investment climate.”
He added that pension reforms were crucial — Greece spends some 17 percent of GDP on pensions according to Eurostat, more than any other EU member.