IMF warns of huge financial hole as Greek vote looms
By Renee Maltezou and David Chance
ATHENS/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund delivered a stark warning on Thursday of the huge financial hole facing Greece as angry and uncertain voters prepare for a referendum that could decide their country's future in Europe.
Days after Greece defaulted on part of its IMF debt, the Fund, part of the lenders' "troika" behind successive international bailouts, said Greece needed an extra 50 billion euros (36 billion pounds) over the next three years, including 36 billion from its European partners, to stay afloat. It also needed significant debt relief.
The assessment, in a preliminary draft of the Fund's latest debt sustainability report, underlines the scale of the problems facing Athens, whatever the result of Sunday's referendum on the bailout offered by creditors last month.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' rejection of what he terms the "blackmail" of EU and IMF creditors demanding spending cuts and tax hikes has so angered Greece's partners that there is no hope of reconciliation before Sunday.
With banks closed for a fourth day and capital controls in place, the future of the left-wing government hangs on the result, given the angry mood of voters in Greece, torn between resentment of the lenders and scorn for their own politicians.
"People have lost it completely. And it's all the fault, one hundred percent, of all the politicians. They are to blame for the situation we are in now," said pensioner Thanos Stamou.
On Sunday it will fall to the Greek people to decide an issue that their government was unable to settle in months of acrimonious negotiations with their European partners.