Politics: FinMin: IMF not discussing Greek debt restructure

International Monetary Fund (IMF) general director Dominique Strauss-Kahn reiterated the IMF position that a restructuring of the Greek debt at this time will not help because the cost would be greater than any benefit, during a discussion in Washington with Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou, the Greek official said after their meeting on Sunday.

"They are not discussing it," Papaconstantinou told reporters after the meeting, adding that "I am tired of saying it", that debt restructure is not on the table, and denied rumors that the Greek government has asked for extension of the repayment period for its entire debt.

Asked if he was telling the truth, the minister replied: "We are telling the truth to the Greek people every day."

Papaconstantinou said the talks with Strauss-Kahn covered the course of the Greek program and the first signs of recovery appearing despite the fact that "the climate continues to be heavy".

The IMF chief seemed pleased with the effort so far which, Strauss-Kahn is cited as saying, is going through its most difficult phase politically, given that the measures are causing expected reactions without the results having begun yet to be visible, and adding that this development is similar with that of programs in other countries in the past.

Strauss-Kahn considers the denationalisations program to be of key importance, and reiterated the need for the reforms to continue at a rapid pace, while he also touched on the issue of the shortfall in revenues.

Papaconstantinou said he noted to Strauss-Kahn, as he had to other high-ranking IMF officials he met with on Saturday, that at least 18 months are necessary to materialise the substantial changes necessary in the tax-collection mechanism in Greece.

The finance minister further anticipated that Greece's image in the markets will improve after the summer, due to the implementation of the program and the first positive developments, but also as a result of Portugal's entry into the support mechanism, which is expected to ameliorate the pressures in the eurozone markets.

"We are implementing a program for the markets to open up and to belie the 'Cassandras" (doom-sayers), as was done by other countries in the past," Papaconstantinou stressed, noting that, in any case, if a delay should occur in the country's access to the markets, there was the European Stability Fund (ESF).

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