IMF says not in debt talks with Greece

A man walks past a graffiti in the centre of Athens on Feb 4, 2015. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a partner in the international bailout of Greece, said on Wednesday it was not in debt talks with the new anti-austerity Greek government.
A man walks past a graffiti in the centre of Athens on Feb 4, 2015. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a partner in the international bailout of Greece, said on Wednesday it was not in debt talks with the new anti-austerity Greek government. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a partner in the international bailout of Greece, said Wednesday it was not in debt talks with the new anti-austerity Greek government.

"There is an agreed framework for dealing with debt in the current programme. There has been no discussion with the authorities on a change in this framework," the IMF said in a brief statement.

The Greek government is pushing to renegotiate the terms of its massive 240-billion-euro (S$369 billion) bailout from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB).

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday, said the government was proposing that Greece's debt owed to the ECB be repaid in full on the July 20 deadline.

But he said that the debt owed to national governments and the IMF could be swapped for growth-linked bonds.

"We are proposing the other tranches, to the IMF and other countries, be substituted with new bonds at market interest, which is very low right now, with a clause: we will start the entire repayment once Greece's economy sees solid growth," he said.

Varoufakis said the idea had already been put to the IMF, adding that he did not see "why they should not accept an extension like they always do in these situations, at least until the end of the year".

The new government, led by the radical left Syriza party, won power in an election last month after pledging to end the previous conservative administration's policies of austerity in the debt-ridden country.

The austerity policies, imposed by the troika of international lenders in exchange for the bailout loans, have seen the Greece economy contract by a quarter and unemployment shoot up to over 25 per cent, with one in two Greek youths now out of work.