IMF says will approve Greek aid plan soon

WASHINGTON (BestGrowthStock) – The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday it was fast-tracking financial aid to Greece well ahead of a critical May 19 deadline for refinancing its debt.

The IMF’s chief negotiator on Greece, Poul Thomsen, said the financial aid numbers for Greece, which will be released later after a euro-area meeting in Brussels, will be “big, unprecedented,” but gave no further details.

“The financial numbers … are going to be big, they are going to be unprecedented,” Thomsen said on a conference call with reporters.

Thomsen’s briefing came after Greece said it had agreed with the European Union and IMF on a massive financial bailout for the debt-stricken country. The IMF should be ready to release funds from its portion of the aid package “very soon,” Thomsen said.

May 19 is a critical date for Athens because it must roll over a large chunk of debt on that day or risk defaulting.

In exchange for a bailout of up to 120 billion euros ($160 billion), the largest assembled for any country, Athens announced spending cuts and tax increases totaling $30 billion euros ($40 billion) on top of austerity measures already announced.

Thomsen described the austerity measures that the Greek government has said it will put in place — over public protests — as “credible” and expressed confidence that EU member countries will also see them that way.

The IMF official said that initial results of stress tests indicated that Greek banks may need additional capital but said the banks’ needs were “surprisingly low.”

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(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, writing by Glenn Somerville, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

IMF says will approve Greek aid plan soon