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Greece to get 'more clarity' on debt relief plan

Euro zone IMF eye compromise to unblock loans for Greece

Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund are likely to strike a compromise on Greece on Thursday, paving the way for new loans while leaving the contentious issue of debt relief for later, officials said on Monday.

In an unexpected breakthrough, the IMF's Lagarde agreed this month to join Greece's massive bailout while putting off the debt question until later.

Debt relief "will be implemented at the end of the programme, conditional on its successful implementation" in 2018, added Djisselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister.

Dijsselbloem said he hoped the meeting will mark a "very positive step forward" that builds on "the huge effort that Greece has put in". While all the creditors say Greece has completed the necessary economic reforms to receive the next slice of aid, euro-area nations are reluctant to offer additional relief.

After three bailouts, Greece's debt now stands at a staggering 180 per cent of annual output, by far the biggest national debt pile in Europe.

The European Union's top economy official says it's time for the Greek people to see the "light at the end of the tunnel of austerity". "The expectation is that the plan will be a success". The IMF has taken a conservative estimate of Greece's financial prospects, asserting that more relief is needed to make the debt sustainable.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said his country's debt needed to be dealt with, saying in an editorial published in French daily Le Monde on Wednesday that the meeting was "essential" for the "future of Europe".

The German parliament's budget committee must decide if the bailout plan for Greece agreed by euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund on Thursday evening amounts to a significant change to the existing program, Germany's finance minister said.

Underlining the IMF's willingness to strike a deal after months of wrangling between its European chief Poul Thomsen and the euro zone, Lagarde will attend the ministers' meeting.

For Greece, that would limit the amount it has to pay out on debt servicing each year, money it can use to help the Greek economy and society.

Moscovici expressed his hope that the "spirit" was there for Greece's relations with its creditors to move to a "new phase".

Papadimitriou told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview published on Thursday that Schaeuble first had acknowledged that Greece had met the requirements, but then changed his mind.

However, Christine Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, said enough progress had been made at Thursday's meeting for her to go to the executive board to get the stand-by facility, which will be less than $2 billion.Lagarde, the IMF's managing director, said enough progress had been made at Thursday's meeting for her to go to the executive board to get the stand-by facility, which will be less than $2 billion.

On Thursday, some 1,500 pensioners protested in Athens against more than a dozen rounds of pension cuts since austerity was enforced seven years ago.

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

Pressure is also mounting at home on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras from a public tired of austerity.