IMF chief rules out Greek payment delay

IMF chief rules out Greek payment delay
Updated 18 June 2015

IMF chief rules out Greek payment delay

IMF chief rules out Greek payment delay

LUXEMBOURG: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde warned Athens Thursday it cannot delay a huge payment due at the end of the month, piling on the pressure as euro zone ministers sought a deal on the Greek debt crisis.
Lagarde laid down the law as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was still convinced an agreement was possible to save Greece from defaulting and crashing out of the euro if Athens made concessions.
Europe's main stock markets fell as euro area's finance ministers poured cold water on hopes that their meeting in Luxembourg could end the stand-off between the anti-austerity Greek government and its creditors.
"There will be no period of grace," Lagarde told reporters in Luxembourg. "I have a term of June 30 — if it's not paid by July 1, it's not paid."
The crisis is nearing a climax with Greece's international bailout due to end on June 30 before Athens gets the last 7.2-billion-euro ($8.1 billion) tranche, and without a deal it will be unable to pay the IMF.
Greece had bought itself some time earlier by bundling four looming IMF loan payments into one 1.6-billion-euro lump sum to be paid by the end of this month — becoming the first country to use such a facility since Zambia in the 1980s.
Creditors are withholding the last part of the bailout until Athens comes up with further reforms, but leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has refused to make changes to pensions and VAT rates.
Merkel, Europe's most powerful leader, told the Bundestag lower house of the German parliament that a cash-for-reforms agreement could still be reached.