PM Tsipras sees troubled reform talks ending by May 1



Athens / AFP

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said reform talks with the country’s EU-IMF creditors, delayed by disagreements over pension cuts and bad loans, could conclude by
May 1.
“I believe the target I have specified, to conclude (the talks) by Orthodox Easter (on May 1)… is feasible,” Tsipras told state television ERT.
“We are on the verge, I believe we will have an agreement very soon,” he said.
He added that Athens has already carried out “three-fifths” of its obligations under the latest EU bailout.
Greece has so far adopted economising measures worth 63 billion euros since the start of the crisis in 2010, and will now economise another 5.4 billion euros ($6.1 billion), Tsipras said.
However, the International Monetary Fund says some 8.0 billion euros in savings are needed to meet fiscal targets.
The IMF worked with the EU on two previous bailouts for Greece since 2010 but the Washington-based lender has said it would not participate in the third rescue plan Tsipras brokered with the EU last summer without credible reforms and an EU agreement to ease Greece’s soaring public debt.
The talks, which are to resume next week, have mostly hinged on an unpopular pensions overhaul and the management of bad loans weighing down Greek banks, with Athens resisting pressure to sell them to distress funds.
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos last week said there could be a preliminary agreement before a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on April 22.
The latest round of creditor talks were clouded by a WikiLeaks report alleging that senior IMF officials sought to engineer a Greek default.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde dismissed the claims as “nonsense”.
Tsipras on Saturday also hailed last week’s decision by the European Central Bank to include Greek banks in its asset purchase programme known as quantitative easing or QE.
In another positive sign, US President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the Greek bailout with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Hannover on April 23, Tsipras said.

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