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IMF mission to Athens will not discuss rescue loan, says official

The IMF will send a team to Athens Wednesday to offer technical assistance to help the government address the Euro-area’s largest budget deficit. However, Greece's Ministry of Finance said there would be no talk of a loan for the moment.

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AFP - An IMF mission is coming to Athens to offer technical assistance to help Greece fix its public finances but there will be no talk of a loan, the finance ministry said.

"We have invited them to help us with their technical know-how, notably for the reform that we have launched to draft the budget," a ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"A loan is not being discussed," the official said.

The International Monetary Fund delegation will begin discussions with Greek officials from various ministries on Wednesday, the source said. Greece has turned to IMF experts several times before, including to fight tax fraud.

The IMF announced earlier Monday that it was sending a mission that would stay in Greece for about one week "to explore possibilities for technical assistance from the IMF in the coming months on pension reform, tax policy, tax administration, and budget management."

The IMF mission comes after experts from the European Commission and the European Central Bank met with Greek officials during a three-day visit last week to examine the country's public finances.

Both the ECB and Spanish presidency of the European Union have warned that Greece should not expect a bailout from the bloc.

Greece, which has acknowledged that it has a credibility problem with the financial markets, has come under pressure from the European Union to clamp down on its ballooning public deficit.

Greece's public spending deficit rose to 12.7 percent of output last year and debt to 113 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The Greek government has said it will get the deficit down to 8.7 percent in 2010 by cutting government spending and fighting tax fraud. It aims to bring it to below 3.0 percent of GDP, the limit imposed by the eurozone, in 2012.

Athens must present its crisis programme to the EU by the end of the month.
 

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