WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it had found policy delays in a number of areas of the Greek bailout program and was open to ideas on how to reach the key objectives of the economic package.
The IMF made the comments after its mission to Greece completed initial talks with the country’s new government. The mission will return to Athens on July 24 for more formal negotiations of the “troika” of international lenders, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.
“It is clear the economy is going through another difficult period,” Rice told a regular briefing for reporters. “Clearly the important thing is to put the program fully back on track.”
The IMF has said the objectives of the austerity program - to reduce the budget deficit, improve growth and make the economy more competitive through cuts and reforms - need to remain the same but it is willing to talks about ways to achieve those goals.
“The program objectives remain the basis for the discussions. It is premature to get into which of the different measures might be open to discussion,” Rice said.
“So far, some targets were met, a number were missed, and in some cases we don’t have data to assess and will have to wait a little longer to develop the full picture,” he added.
The conservative-led coalition government won elections on a pledge to renegotiate parts of the bailout, including softening the pain of austerity by stretching measures over four years instead of two as planned.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said he does not dispute the goal of the plan but how to reach them without deepening Greece’s recession.
Government officials said after meeting the troika of international lenders that Greece will not ask for a renegotiation of the terms before it proves it can be a credible partner by catching up on delays and pushing reforms.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andrew Hay