Greece Optimistic on Reaching a Deal this Month

Greece intends to meet debt payments this month and reach a deal with its international lenders to unlock remaining bailout aid, but the International Monetary Fund insists on tough labor reforms, the country’s labor minister said on Monday.

Struggling amid a cash crunch, Athens faces debt repayments to the IMF totaling nearly 1 billion euros this month. It has been borrowing from municipalities and government entities to meet obligations.

Asked whether it will be in a position to make the IMF payment, Labor Minister Panos Skourletis told Mega TV: “The country has chosen to pay its obligations and reach an agreement (with lenders). We are trying to have the money.”

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s three-month-old government is under growing pressure at home and abroad to reach an agreement with European and IMF lenders over reforms to avert a national bankruptcy.

Skourletis said the IMF was unyielding on its demands for labor reforms, including pensions cuts, mass layoffs and resisting a plan by the leftist-led government to raise the minimum wage.

“They (IMF) are asking us to not touch anything (from the austerity measures) that have ruined Greek people’s lives in the last five years,” he said.

Elected on pledges to roll back austerity, the government has been resisting further cuts in pensions and legislation that would allow mass layoffs. Unemployment remains near record highs.

Negotiations with lenders have made headway in recent days and an agreement could be closer this month, a Greek government official said on Sunday, although sticking points remain.

via Reuters

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Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza