IMF Team to Go to Athens July 24 to Discuss Conditions

An International Monetary Fund team will return to Athens July 24 to discuss how to put the program of measures attached to the country’s loan “fully back on track,” a fund spokesman said.

“It’s premature to get into which of the different measures might be open to discussion,” spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters in Washington today when asked whether the dates for budget deficit targets could be renegotiated. “There are policy implementation delays in a number of areas and it is clear that the economy is going through another difficult period.”

Greek leaders said yesterday that the coalition government was committed to pursuing plans to convince the European Union and the IMF that it is serious about pursuing reforms and winning more time to reduce the deficit as part of the 130 billion-euro ($159 billion) international bailout.

Rice today said the objectives of the program remain the same, with the IMF “open” to discussing ideas on how to better achieve them.

“So far some targets were met, a number were missed, in some cases we don’t have the data to assess, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to develop the full picture,” he said.

An IMF mission has also returned from Cyprus and it is too early to quantify the amount of financial help the country needs, Rice said. Restoring the health of the nation’s financial sector will be one of the priorities of the measures attached to a future loan, he said.

Portugal’s target of reducing its deficit to 4.5 percent of its gross domestic product this year can be reached, though it requires “rigorous implementation” of measures agreed to in the budget, Rice said. If the European economic situation were to worsen, “one has to keep an open mind,” he said.

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