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IMF says Greece needs much larger debt relief from EU

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The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that Greece's EU creditors will have to go "far beyond" their existing estimates for debt relief to stabilize the country's finances.

[WASHINGTON] The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that Greece's EU creditors will have to go "far beyond" their existing estimates for debt relief to stabilize the country's finances.

The EU needs to decide between a dramatic extension of grace and payment periods for the debt, direct cash payments to the government to finance its deficit, or a debt "haircut", or writedown, the IMF said.

The Fund also warned that given "considerable" downside risks to the country's economic situation, Greece could need more than the 85 billion euros (S$127.4 billion) tentatively agreed on Monday for the country's third bailout.

In an updated study of the country's situation - which was provide to EU leaders during negotiations over the weekend - the IMF said Greece's debt burden over the next decade will be much higher than it estimated just two weeks ago, before the country shut down its banks and instituted capital controls in a showdown with its EU creditors.

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For example, the new projections said the debt level would rise to almost 200 percent of GDP next year, compared to 177 per cent in the previous estimate, in part due to the economy enduring another year of recession in 2015.

For 2022, the ratio would still be a huge 170 per cent, instead of 142 per cent in the previous estimate.

Given that profile, in addition to more financial aid for the government, the IMF said the country needs a large level of debt relief.

"The dramatic deterioration in debt sustainability points to the need for debt relief on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date," the new study said.

"We are reiterating our policy conclusions ... that Greece's debt is unsustainable and will require a significant debt operation," a senior IMF official said of the paper.

It said that if a debt re-profiling is chosen, it will require an extension of the grace period on debt payments of 30 years.

"Other options include explicit annual transfers to the Greek budget or deep upfront haircuts. The choice between the various options is for Greece and its European partners to decide," it said.

AFP

Read more on the Greek crisis here

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