Athens IMF to shut down within months

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The International Monetary Fund will soon be shutting down its local bureau in Athens in a move signalling Greece’s readiness to leave behind a decade marked by financial crisis.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the decision on Tuesday after meeting with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva at the fund’s headquarters in Washington.

“We look forward to a whole new chapter in our relationship, a relationship of positive cooperation,” Mitsotakis said. Stating he welcomed the decision to close the IMF office in Athens in the coming months, Mitsotakis said Greece would “continue to cooperate, but as a country that has come out of this strict IMF surveillance framework.”

Athens completed its third bailout program in August 2018 after receiving some €290 billion in emergency loans over eight years from the eurozone and the IMF — the biggest bailout for a debtor in recent history.

Mitsotakis now hopes to persuade Greece’s European lenders to relax budget surplus targets set during the 2015 bailout, on the basis that he promises to deliver higher economic growth from 2021 onward. Mitsotakis said he hopes the fund will support Greece’s request.

“The relationship with the IMF has not always been easy, but I think we agree on some important issues, such as the need to reduce primary surpluses in 2021,” he said. “I believe the time has come for this discussion with our partners in the eurozone. We are a credible government, we are implementing reforms, we are in a low-interest-rate environment, our borrowing costs are lower than in Italy.”

Speaking at Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council earlier on Tuesday, Mitsotakis suggested the extra fiscal wiggle room would help Greece revamp its international profile after years of focusing on the economic crisis.

“For 10 years, we were too focused on our internal problems. It is about time to return to the region with a forward-looking agenda and to punch above our weight,” he said.

Sourced by: Politico

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