IMF: more work needed to reach deal on Greece loan

 

More work is needed to narrow the differences in talks to unlock new loans for debt-laden Greece, although some progress has been made, an IMF spokesman said Thursday.

Negotiations between Athens and its eurozone and International Monetary Fund creditors have dragged for months owing to disagreements over debt relief and budget targets for the austerity-hit country.

"Progress is being made but more work will be needed to narrow remaining differences," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters, repeating a sentiment he has expressed many times before.

The impasse has held up the latest installment of Greece's 86-billion-euro ($91 billion) bailout, agreed in 2015, which it needs for debt repayments in July.

Rice said the ongoing negotiations in Brussels included discussions on key policy reforms in the pension system and labor markets, but he could not give any timeframe for concluding the talks.

Athens risks defaulting on its loans if it fails to meet seven billion euros of new debt payments this summer.

The IMF has repeatedly said that Greece's debt is not sustainable and the country requires debt restructuring.

But European governments, especially Germany, have resisted providing more debt relief and dispute the fund's analysis, instead calling for more economic policy steps including pension reforms, tax hikes and increased privatization.

The Washington-based fund, which will not lend to a country where debt is unsustainable, has cautioned against imposing further austerity on Greece, although they agree some reforms remain incomplete, including to the tax and pension systems.

The last such impasse over Greece, which followed the election of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in early 2015, nearly saw Athens expelled from the euro.

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