Neither Greece, nor the International Monetary Fund (IMF) want to delay the completion of the country’s first program review, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Fund’s head Christine Lagarde agreed during a meeting in Davos on Thursday.
According to the prime minister’s office, Tsipras and Lagarde agreed that the government and the IMF should have direct communication so that each side has a clear understanding of each other’s position.
The prime minister also briefed Lagarde on the audits conducted by Greek authorities for possible tax evaders who have bank counts abroad, noting it is the first time that there is political will to investigate those cases and not cover them up. Finally, he said the government is hoping to collect a significant part of this money by introducing a legislation of “self-reporting”.
Following the meeting, the IMF issued a press release saying that it stands ready to continue to support Greece in achieving robust economic growth and sustainable public finances through a credible and comprehensive medium-term economic programme, but only if it was granted “significant” debt relief by its European partners.
Earlier, Tsipras said during a panel discussion that solving Europe’s problems required “more Europe”.
“We are doing what we can in order to progress quickly and smoothly with the implementation of the agreement,” he said, and expressed hope that the disagreements and different views that occasionally arose between the three institutions representing the country’s creditors would not be the cause of further delays.
“This is not the time for various ‘exits’, whether these concern ‘Grexit’ or ‘Brexit’, or for divisions, or walls, or differentiations,” the Greek premier continued. “It is a time for more Europe: Common rules, deepening democracy, strengthening solidarity, an increased European budget in order to restrict inequalities, banking union with a European system for guaranteeing deposits,” he added.
According to Tsipras, it was time for Europe to return to its founding principles, which were those of democracy, solidarity and social cohesion.
Addressing issues raised by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said the International Monetary Fund’s presence in the Greek programme was essential and compared asking German lawmakers to sanction its removal to “going into a room full of dynamite with a lit candle”, Tsipras made the following comment:
“I too am no supporter of the view that one should attempt to light a candle in a room full of dynamite. Neither, however, do I have the view that on this account one must constantly be in the dark. The best solution is to remove the dynamite from the room and then light the candle.”