Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday said reform talks with the country's European Union-International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors, delayed by disagreements over pension cuts and bad loans, could conclude by May 1. "I believe the target I have specified, to conclude [the talks] by Orthodox Easter [on May 1] ... is feasible," Tsipras told state television channel ERT. "We are on the verge, I believe we will have an agreement very soon," he said. He added that Athens has already conducted "three-fifths" of its obligations under the latest EU bailout. Greece has so far adopted economizing measures worth 63 billion euros since the start of the crisis in 2010, and will now economize another 5.4 billion euros, Tsipras said.
However, the IMF says some 8 billion euros in savings are needed to meet fiscal targets. The IMF worked with the EU on two previous bailouts for Greece since 2010 but the Washington-based lender has said it would not participate in the third rescue plan Tsipras brokered with the EU last summer without credible reforms and an EU agreement to ease Greece's soaring public debt.
The talks, which are to resume next week, have mostly hinged on an unpopular pensions overhaul and the management of bad loans weighing down Greek banks, with Athens resisting pressure to sell them to distress funds. Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos last week said there could be a preliminary agreement before a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on April 22. The latest round of creditor talks was clouded by a WikiLeaks report alleging that senior IMF officials sought to engineer a Greek default. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde dismissed the claims as "nonsense."