Cyprus Mail

Greece has started debt-swap talks with IMF, minister tells paper

Greece's Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis

Greece has started negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over a plan to swap its sovereign debt for growth-linked bonds, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Greece’s new government is trying to restructure its public debt after receiving 240 billion euros ($275 billion) in bailout money since 2010, when the euro zone debt crisis brought its economy close to collapsing.

The government of leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras, elected last month on an anti-bailout ticket, is proposing to swap Greek bonds held by the European Central Bank and national governments for either growth-linked or perpetual bonds.

The plan got a sceptical reception from euro zone officials on Tuesday as Tsipras sought support for his proposals in Europe.

His finance minister told Italian newspaper La Repubblica the same deal was also being offered to the IMF.

Varoufakis said the debt would be divided up, with the ECB being paid back “entirely and by the deadline”.

“We are proposing to substitute the other tranches, to the IMF and other countries, with new bonds at market interest, which is very low at the moment, with a clause: we will start the entire repayment once solid growth starts in Greece,” he said.

Greece had started talks with Fund officials.

“I don’t see why they should not accept an extension like they always do in these situations, at least until the end of the year,” Varoufakis said.

Varoufakis and Tsipras have been visiting European capitals this week to drum up support for their plans. Varoufakis is due to meet ECB officials on Wednesday.

Varoufakis told La Repubblica he was optimistic that the Greek debt problem would be solved and had received good feedback during meetings with financiers in London on Monday.

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