Representatives of Greece’s rescue creditors said the country is on target to regain access to bond markets by the end of the year and exit the bailout program next summer.
Officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the European Stability Mechanism fund said a major round of austerity cuts and reforms approved by Greece’s parliament several weeks ago provided the country a “real opportunity” for the country public finances to recover.
The officials spoke at the Economist conference at the luxury seaside resort of Lagonissi near Athens on Wednesday.
“Greece is on track to exit the current third bailout in mid-2018 and focus should now shift to growth,” ESM Managing Director Klaus Regling during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
“The painful measures are now behind us…Now you can concentrate on strengthening the prospects for growth. This is the new target,” Regling said.
“Our common target now is to regain the confidence of the markets and to be able to finish the program in mid-2018, so that we are not in the difficult position of needing further disbursements from you,” Alexis Tsipras replied.
Regling noted that the next bailout installment to Athens is expected to take place in early July and that the country could return to the markets in 2017 or early 2018 “if there is progress on reforms and the program is fully implemented.”
At the same time the International Monetary Fund insists that Greek debt is not sustainable.
Head of IMF‘s mission in Greece, Delia Velculescu, dampened expectations Wednesday that the end of the Greek issue is over. “We are not there yet.” she said.
Speaking at the economist conference, Velculescu insisted Greece cannot be expected to achieve the primary surpluses goals set the the country’s European creditors. The IMF continues to believe that Greece will not be able to achieve primary surpluses of over 1.5% on the long run. Focus should be on making Greek debt sustainable, she stressed.
Greek bond yields have tumbled since the latest cuts were passed, a sign of greater investor confidence in the country, and the government reached an agreement with creditors to restart loan installments. (compiled with information from AP, ANA, other sources)
PS Good to know “the painful measures are now behind ” Regling, because they are still in front of Greeks…