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Greece repays IMF debt two years ahead of schedule, says finance minister

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By AP
A worker adjusts the Greek flag atop of the old National Library building in Athens.
A worker adjusts the Greek flag atop of the old National Library building in Athens.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File

Greece has paid off its entire debt from the financial crisis to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), two years ahead of schedule.

Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the repayment "closes the chapter" that was opened in May 2010.

"[This is] “a very positive development,” Staikouras stated, adding that the country could save around €230 million in interest.

Greece’s European Union bailout lenders gave the formal go-ahead last week for the early repayment of the outstanding loans worth €1.86 billion.

Their approval was needed as the initial requirement was for early IMF repayments to be made in parallel with those made to European lenders.

Three successive bailouts totalling some €260 billion between 2010 and 2018 prevented Greece from going bankrupt and exiting the shared euro currency.

But successive Greek governments were forced to implement painful budget cuts and tax hikes that led to a surge in unemployment and poverty.

Despite exiting the bailout programme in 2018, Greece remains under enhanced surveillance on its spending from European lenders.

Last week, the European Stability Mechanism also approved the early Greek repayment of €2.65 billion in loans made before the EU bailout fund was formally established.