WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Greece has begun talks for ending International Monetary Fund aid to the country, but will continue to have routine post-bailout reviews by the Washington-based group, a Greek official said after talks with the IMF’s chief on Sunday.
The IMF is deeply unpopular in Greece for insisting on austerity cuts under Greece’s 240 billion euro EU/IMF bailout and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras hopes that cutting ties with the IMF will help turn around his flagging political fortunes.
“Everything is on the table, the discussions have started. The IMF is positive because it believes that it has contributed to progress in Greece,” a Greek finance ministry official said after a meeting with IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
“The IMF continues with a post-program review in every country it lends to...we will have a relationship with the IMF but not under the same conditions.”
The IMF’s role in Greece after it leaves is expected to have political implications for the government, which is keen to portray the IMF departure as an end to supervision by the group while the opposition says any such end will only be in name.
Analysts say Greece will likely to continue to have support from the EU in the form of a precautionary credit line or another backstop, which will come at the price of some reforms.
The IMF in a statement confirmed that Lagarde met Greek officials including the finance minister and the Bank of Greece governor and praised Greece for improving its fiscal position and urged it to implement key structural reforms.
Greece has said it wants its current bailout to finish by the end of the year when EU funding stops, though the IMF is scheduled to stay through early 2016.
The talks with the IMF come after Samaras comfortably won a confidence vote in parliament in the early hours of Saturday. He called the vote to rally support for plans to abandon the bailout and end speculation of imminent snap elections.
Reporting by Krista Hughes; Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Stephen Powell