Greece meets latest IMF loan payment of €459m – leading baffled economists to ask: where did it get the money from?
Greece met a loan payment of €459 million to the International Monetary Fund on Thursday, according to reports, as the EU discusses whether the country has reformed enough to merit a further cash injection.
“The payment order has been given,” a finance ministry source told AFP.
But no one is quite sure where the money came from - a consequence of the opaque Greek finance system. There are few trained accountants in the country and they do not adhere to international accounting standards, so records are thin and many citizens do not pay tax.
Poor accounting standards are blamed by some for the uncertain numbers that have come out of Greece regarding the country’s debt.
Athens is aware of the tax problem. It promised to hire tourists and cleaners as part time tax inspectors in a recent round of reforms drawn up to meet EU criteria for further cash.
The latest IMF payment was ordered at the same time as Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras met Putin in Moscow to discuss co-operation between the two orthodox Catholic nations.
While both parties denied that Greece had financial aid had been requested, the two sides are said to have talked about extending a Turkish natural gas pipeline through Greece and relief from Russian sanctions on European food produce.
Russian investment in key Greek infrastructure, including the port of Thessaloniki, is also in discussion.
Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said during a visit to Washington this week that Greece would meet the April 9 payment and every other until the debts are cleared. He still has some way to go – next month, Athens owes a further €950 million to the IMF.
Over €2 billion euros in six- and three-month treasury bills are also due to mature on April 14 and 17 – though they should roll on to the next maturity without incurring further cost.
This week Athens raised another €1.14 billion in six-month Treasury bills and announced a further sale of €625 million next week. The country is dependent on such short terms bonds to raise cash, but the takers are mostly domestic investors because Greece is shut out of international debt markets.