Greece's primary budget surplus will rise to 1.5 per cent over the long run from about 1 per cent past year, amid a modest recovery, the IMF said on Monday after executive directors met to discuss the fund's annual assessment of the nation's economy.
"Most Directors [of the IMF Executive Board] considered that, despite Greece's enormous sacrifices and European partners' generous support, further relief may well be required to restore debt sustainability".
It warned Greece's debt "is highly unsustainable" and "will become explosive in the long run".
The IMF also took the unusual step of conceding that its board was split over the findings, though most of the 24 agreed with the "thrust" of the appraisal.
The organisation called on Greece's euro area peers to offer "significant debt relief" and hold back on forcing through more austerity reforms.
"Given that the general government's primary surplus may reach 2 percent of GDP, versus a target of 0.5 percent of GDP, the fund's fiscal forecasts raise many questions", Stournaras says, adding the IMF is also very pessimistic concerning future economic developments, including a need to recapitalize banks again.
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The IMF staff said that additional austerity measures and spending cuts would not improve Greece's financial prospects in the longer term.
Since the financial crisis left it buried in debt, Greece has made painful budget cuts that caused a deep recession, with unemployment now at 23%.
But using taxpayers' money to Greece yet more debt relief will be an unpopular policy for many European countries.
He said Greece's creditors, which include both the International Monetary Fund and euro zone states, would be prepared to ease the terms of debt repayments further if Athens continued to cooperate on reforms.
Greece is under pressure to conclude its latest bailout negotiations in time for a scheduled February 20 meeting of eurozone finance ministers.