By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS
10 October 2013
Associated Press Newswires
(c) 2013. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greece says it is due to meet a key deficit-cutting target this year, but the International Monetary Fund warned the country may be forced to make new spending cuts.
Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the budget deficit for January to September was 2.66 billion euros ($3.6 billion), significantly less than the 8.27 billion-euro target. Excluding the cost of debt servicing, there is a 2.62 billion-euro surplus, better than the target for a roughly equivalent deficit.
"The first positive signs of the country exiting the crisis are there," he said.
The IMF, however, poured cold water on Greek hopes, forecasting in a new report that Athens would need to find new cost savings through 2016. Debt-burdened Greece is struggling to rescue its public finances after four years of austerity measures which have ravaged the economy.
Because the IMF is -- alongside eurozone countries -- giving Greece rescue loans, its views carry weight. It is unlikely to allow the payment of more bailout loans, which are issued in quarterly installments, unless it finds Greece's debt outlook is sustainable.
In Washington, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde tried to calm Greek worries, saying that talk of fresh cuts was still "premature" and that details of potential new measures would depend on the effectiveness of tax reforms and the country's privatization program.
"If new measures were needed, I can tell you one thing: It's not going to be in the form of additional fiscal measures and it will not be in form of across-the-board, undifferentiated cuts in wages or pensions," Lagarde told a news conference.
Greece's debt is due to reach 175.5 percent of GDP this year and must fall below 110 percent by 2022.
The IMF says Greece's European bailout creditors will have to forgive some of the loans the country owes them to render the debt manageable, an unpalatable…