The IMF believes progress has been made on debt-relief for Greece, but urges all sides to continue to seek a sustainable plan for the long term, spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters Thursday (June 22) in Washington.
“This approval in principle does not in any way signal that the work on debt relief is going by the wayside or on a slower track; not at all. The Managing Director, as I mentioned, urged the creditors to redouble their efforts, to reach convergence as quickly as possible.
We have made some progress on debt relief, but we don’t think we are there yet, it’s not enough,” Rice said at the bi-weekly IMF news conference in Washington.
Approval in Principle (AIP) would allow the IMF to be supportive of the progress made on policies, while release of resources under the IMF arrangement would be conditional upon Greece’s European creditors providing commitments for debt relief sufficient to secure debt sustainability, Rice told reporters.
But Rice also rejected some criticism from the outside that the deal reached last week with Greece and Euro-area lenders was driven by politics.
“We see this very much as a constructive and a principled approach, the IMF is sticking to its principles, and sticking to what it has said all along on Greece, in terms of these two legs of the program,” Rice said.
The IMF has maintained a policy of needing to see progress on “two legs” in Greece: First, comprehensive fiscal spending legislation by the government in Athens, and secondly a specific and credible plan for how Greece and its creditors can lower the debt burden.
Additionally, Rice confirmed that IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has received an invitation to visit Athens from Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and hopes to arrange a trip when suitable dates are found.
Rice also addressed published reports from an online news outlet in Zambia alleging that an IMF official has been bribed.
“I’ve seen some news reports over the last 24 hours that have an outrageous allegation of relating to a bribe being taken by an IMF staff member. It’s an outrageous allegation, as I say. It’s utterly false; it’s rubbish, actually,” Rice said.
The IMF recently concluded a staff visit to Zambia in support of the 2017 Article IV consultation, and has been in negotiations discussing providing a credit facility to help the African country plug its budget deficits.
“Implementation of the remaining actions in the next few weeks, would enable us to present the authorities’ request for the ECF arrangement and the report on the 2017 Article IV consultation to the IMF Executive Board in August 2017,” said Rice.