IMF: New Greek bailout possible
(WASHINGTON) - The International Monetary Fund said Thursday a new bailout program for Greece was possible but that Athens needs to do more in terms of restructuring.
"More needs to be done, and that's what the new program is going to be all about," said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice, just hours after Greek leaders agreed to a tough new austerity program seeking to win support from the European Union.
"As in all our programs broad political support for the program is crucial, and that's why we the IMF, together with our partners in Europe, have been taking this time to discuss the measures of a possible new program with the political leaders in Greece," Rice said.
"I think we're all agreed that there needs to be this labor market reform and the adjustment of wages to align more with productivity.
"Again, I think there's broad agreement that that needs to be achieved. The 'how do we get there' is still under discussion."
Earlier Thursday Greek leaders cobbled together a last-minute deal on austerity cuts, clearing the way for the European Union to decide on a bailout package worth 130 billion euros ($171 billion) even as Greek unions called a new strike against the terms.
Rice said Greece's Prime Minister Lucas Papademos had informed IMF managing director Christine Lagarde of the deal between political leaders earlier Thursday.
But he refused to say whether the IMF, which already has a sizable exposure to Greece through the country's first joint IMF-EU bailout program, will join the new one in the works.
"What I would say on the financing is what we've been saying for some time: that the key is to restore growth, competitiveness, jobs; the key is to help Greece return back to a sustainable debt trajectory."
The IMF has set of goal of cutting Greece's debt burden, currently about $350 billion euros, from roughly 160 percent of gross domestic product now to a maximum of 120 percent in 2020.
Doing so could involve any combination of private sector restructuring of Greek debt -- which is currently under negotiation, new private financing and new financing support from the official sector, he said.
"We don't have a particular view on how that combination of the right level of resources is achieved" to get to that point, Rice said.
"Everything depends on the agreement of the program and everything depends on the implementation."
Meanwhile he rejected accusations that the IMF and EU were forcing hardship on the Greek people in trying financing support to certain performance goals.
"The IMF is not imposing austerity on Greece," he told reporters -- it is "partnering" with Greek authorities on the program.