Greek FinMin criticizes IMF, Berlin for delay in bailout review

The IMF now believes Greece needs substantial debt relief, while the euro zone thinks it does not.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund, which thus far has not financially contributed to the current Euro 86 billion bailout agreed in 2015, said more progress was needed.

The Eurogroup took a small step on Monday (20 February) towards the completion of the second review of Greece's €86 billion rescue programme, placing the emphasis on reforms over austerity to reduce the country's huge debt pile.

"I'm very happy with that outcome today", Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch finance minister told a press conference.

"They [representatives of the institutions] will work with the Greek authorities on an additional package of structural reforms of the tax system, pension system and labor market regulation", Dijsselbloem added.

"We've had intense talks with the institutions and the Greek government to clear the ground for the mission to return to Athens and in the eurogroup we will discuss whether we've come to that point", he said, using the formal name of the meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

The last such mission broke down in acrimony in December over differences as to what still needed to be done and how to ensure Greece meets agreed fiscal targets in the years to come.

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But if the eurozone is going to stick with its plans, then the International Monetary Fund has demanded what it sees as the necessary tax hikes and pension cuts to meet them before it will lend further to Athens. "We have elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany".

It also wants Athens to reform pensions, saying the system was now doubling up as an unemployment benefit system, because Greece did not have a separate unemployment welfare plan.

European economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he was "confident" about the meeting and added that he was "hopeful that teams can return to Athens very soon".

Greece should leave the eurozone and then be given debt relief, the head of Germany's pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) told German radio today (9 February), as a dispute between the eurozone, the International Monetary Fund and Greece itself continues unabated.

Amid this deadlock, more and more voices can be heard, including from within Greece, asking for an exit from the eurozone.

Eurozone finance ministers will on Monday seek the outline of a deal to unblock bailout cash for Greece before fraught elections across Europe endanger a quick fix.

The Fund's continued involvement will be the main issue on the agenda on Wednesday when IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde meets Merkel in Berlin. "I assume that can be achieved in the coming weeks".

  • Adam Floyd