Saturday, 21 October, 2017

Greece hoping to finally secure long-term debt relief deal

Greece imf debt GETTYThe IMF is meeting eurozone finance ministers to discuss Greece's debt deal
Marta Holmes | 16 June, 2017, 04:27

To accommodate the IMF's need for more specifics on debt relief, the euro zone finance ministers said in a statement that in 2018 they would be ready to consider extending the maturities and grace periods of their loans to Greece by a range from zero to 15 years.

Mr Dijsselbloem says the exit strategy will "enable Greece to stand on its own feet again next year".

Before the meeting on Thursdays, the creditors sounded optimistic about reaching a deal, while Greek sources warned that an agreement was hanging in the balance.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday a French proposal over a mechanism linking medium-term debt relief to Greece's growth rates could be a compromise that could end an impasse among the country's lenders over its debt pile.

"I would like to announce my intention to propose to the IMF's Executive Board the approval in principle (AIP) of a new IMF Stand-By Arrangement for Greece".

Eurogroup finance ministers meet later on Thursday to review the bailout program for Greece. "The figure will only come right at the end of the program".

She suggested last week that the International Monetary Fund could join the Greek bailout now, but not disburse any money until the euro zone clarifies what debt relief it can offer Greece. The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, told his cabinet he would take the problem to an European Union leaders' summit next week if there was no agreement.

"It is a new phase", he said. It needs to be a "success", he added.

Greece is trying Thursday to convince its creditors that it's done enough to get its hands on more rescue money as well as a detailed plan for how its massive debt burden can be eased once its current bailout program ends next year.

Arriving at the meeting of the of the finance ministers from the European countries that use the euro, Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was "optimistic that we will reach a result regarding the payout of the next tranche" of bailout loans.

After months of haggling that raised fears of another escalation in Greece's near 8-year debt crisis, the 19-country eurozone cleared the release of a further 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion) after the Greek government delivered on an array of reforms.

"I remain confident that we will find an agreement today on the payment of the latest tranche".

The upbeat feeling was shared by Greece's biggest eurozone partners, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin also expressing confidence that Greece "will be rewarded for its efforts".

The Greek government, whose popularity has fallen sharply as it imposed more austerity measures, faced more criticism Thursday when more than 2,000 elderly protesters marched through central Athens to demonstrate against pension cuts.

"We can't live on 300 euros ($334)!" they chanted, with some waving sticks.

AIP supports the IMF's long-held principle that any new program with Greece should be predicated on the "two legs" of policy reforms combined with debt relief.

"I hope that today we will take a very positive step forward".

In 2015, Greece's worldwide creditors signed an agreement with Athens approving a third bailout package worth over $92 billion in exchange for austerity reforms which include pension cuts and tax hikes.

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