Greece reassures IMF on privatization

Feb. 14, 2011 at 12:33 PM
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ATHENS, Greece, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said Greece was committed to privatizing services to comply with terms of its international bailout.

Greece received a $148 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in May. The terms include an agreement to sell $67 billion in state assets, the EUobserver reported Monday

An assessment team from the IMF and the EU recently criticized Greece for its slow efforts to turn services over to private concerns.

In turn, a spokesman for the Greek government on Saturday said the assessment team had "behaved unacceptably."

"We asked them for help ... not to meddle in our internal affairs," the spokesman said.

Papaconstantinou sought to calm tensions Sunday after a statement from the European Central Bank and the IMF applauded Greece's effort to comply with the terms of the loan.

"We recognize the difficult challenge facing the Greek economy and we have the deepest respect for the tremendous efforts being made by the Greek people," the IMF and the ECB said.

Papaconstantinou said Greece "will commercially exploit public property," but drew the line at selling state land.

"We will not sell off state land," he said.

"The decisions about how this will be done will be taken by the Greek government and nobody else," he added.

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