WASHINGTON (Reuters) - International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that she had ‘no doubt’ European authorities would stick by their commitments to give Greece additional debt relief if it meets fiscal targets set under its bailout program.
The IMF, along with the European Central Bank and the European Commission, gave Greece a cash infusion to help the country recover from a crisis and stay in the euro zone currency bloc. But the IMF has said Greece will need additional support to plug funding gaps next year.
“The European partners are committed to do certain things, and they have always reiterated those commitments, and we hope they will continue to do that, I have no doubt about it,” Lagarde told a news conference ahead of the IMF and World Bank fall meetings.
Greece on Thursday posted a central government surplus in the first nine months of the year excluding debt servicing costs, putting it on track to hit fiscal targets that open the way for debt relief from its international lenders.
The IMF and European lenders are set to return to Greece by the end of October to continue a review of Greek reforms and update growth and budget forecasts.
Lagarde said one key issue is seeing progress in Greece’s tax reforms. The worry is that austerity-hit households might prove unable to cope with a planned tax onslaught in the coming months, though a recovery in the Greek economy could also improve tax collection.
But Lagarde seemed to agree with a plea from Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who urged lenders to cut the country some slack and not ask Greeks to take any further cuts in jobs, income and benefits.
“If new measures were needed (for Greece), I can tell you one thing is that it is not going to be in the form of additional fiscal measures, and it will not in the form of across the board, undifferentiated cuts in wages or pensions,” she said.
Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Tim Ahmann