* Athens digs in over reforms as lenders talks resume
* Greece criticises IMF over stand on reforms
By Renee Maltezou
ATHENS, Dec 13 Greece and its creditors resumed
attempts on Tuesday to break an impasse on fiscal reforms as the
country's leftist-led government criticised the IMF for keeping
quiet about the risks of deeper austerity measures in the
discussions with lenders.
Reviews of reforms the Greek government should undertake as
part of a multi-billion euro bailout have been beset with
delays. The latest hinges on labour and energy reforms, and the
level of surplus targets when the credit line expires in 2018.
Greece wants lower primary surplus targets than the 3.5
percent sought by its European partners, a level which implies
further austerity on a nation bowed by seven years of recession.
"The position of the Greek government is steadfast on labour
issues and fiscal targets," government spokesman Dimitris
The IMF, which has yet to decide if it will fund Greece's
third bailout programme, says a 3.5 percent primary surplus in
2018 onwards advocated by the European arm of lenders is
unrealistic. It says the country will need fresh austerity
measures to meet that target along with substantial debt relief.
That concern has kept the IMF at bay since Greece signed up
to the latest bailout in 2015 under duress at the prospect of
being turfed out of the euro zone. Now just euro zone
governments are footing the bailout bill.
Senior IMF officials stuck to that assessment of surplus
targets being too high.
"We warned this (3.5 percent target) would generate a degree
of austerity that could prevent the nascent recovery from taking
hold," Poul Thomsen, head of the IMF's European Department and
Chief Economist Maury Obstfeld, wrote in an IMF blog on Monday.
Athens, which has found fault with the Washington-based fund
for not being vocal enough in pushing that view with Europeans,
says its medium-term target is still under negotiation. It has
suggested lowering it to 2.5 percent of GDP.
"The IMF would do well to restore its credibility both
towards Greece, and to the international community by insisting
on the need for reducing primary surplus targets to 1.5 percent
at the end of the programme," Tzanakopoulos said.
Athens has received more than 200 billion euros in bailouts
since 2010, and the country is the most indebted in Europe with
a debt mountain just under 180 percent of its national output.
Greece's European partners have offered Greece short-term
debt relief but have wavered on offering anything more specific
for fear of looking soft to voters in crunch election years
several European nations.
(Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Alison Williams)