Athens / AFP
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday that an EU-IMF audit of the debt-laden countryâ€™s reforms would likely resume by March 10, hinting that the process was being delayed by divisions among the creditors.
â€œMy estimate is that (senior creditor representatives will) return in the first ten days of March,â€ Tsipras said in a televised interview.
â€œThere must finally be agreement between the (creditors) so we can move forward,â€ he told Star TV.
Greeceâ€™s international creditors â€” the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund â€” 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 Tsiprasâ€™ leftist government which the IMF has found insufficient.
Tsipras on Tuesday said the IMF had to â€œreturn to realityâ€ on the issue and decide whether it still wanted to be part of the rescue programme.
â€œThere must be a return to reality on the part of the IMF if we are to move forward,â€ the Greek PM said.
â€œThe IMF must be asked for a clear statement â€” either you agree with the programme and you stay, but with realistic targets, or if you donâ€™t agree and you want to leave, tell us in a timely fashion.â€
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.
â€œAs we did not require â‚¬25 billion ($27 billion) as initially calculated but 5.7 billion.. (we can) meet our financing needs without the IMFâ€™s presence.â€
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 Greeceâ€™s debt burden.
The IMFâ€™s European zone head had last month warned against â€œover-optimistic assumptions (which) will soon cause Grexit fears to resurface once again and stifle the investment climate.â€
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.