WASHINGTON, D.C.: US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will press Greece’s government to move ahead on economic reforms in a visit to Athens this week, the Treasury Department said Monday.
In a stopover on his way to the Group of 20 finance chiefs meeting in Chengdu, China, Lew will meet Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos over July 20 to 21 as Greece’s economy remains mired in a long recession.
“The secretary will encourage the government to continue making strong progress on reforms this summer so that European leaders can begin discussing with the IMF [International ] the timing and details of debt relief this fall,” the Treasury said.
The International Monetary Fund has held off from participating in the third, European Union-led 86 billion euro ($95.3 billion) rescue program for Greece, insisting both that creditors cut the country’s massive debt burden and the government press forward with reforms especially to its pension system.
But progress toward both objectives has been slow. The EU has already paid out almost 30 billion euros and talks have begun on easing Greece’s debt, which amounts to 182 percent of gross domestic product, the broad measure of the economy’s activity.
Last month Klaus Regling, who heads the EU’s rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, complained that it took nine months instead of the expected three to complete the first review of the bailout because of the slow work on reforms.
In May, meanwhile, the IMF made clear it could not consider joining the EU bailout before a solid debt relief plan was in place.
In an analysis of Greece’s finances over the next 40 years released Monday, the IMF said that without billions of dollars in debt relief the country’s debt burden will only grow while its economy stumbles along.