The International Monetary Fund has electrified the referendum debate in Greece after it conceded that the crisis-ridden country needs up to €60bn (£42bn) of extra funds over the next three years and large-scale debt relief to create “a breathing space” and stabilise the economy.

With days to go before Sunday’s knife-edge referendum that the country’s creditors have cast as a vote on whether it wants to keep the euro, the IMF revealed a deep split with Europe as it warned that Greece’s debts were “unsustainable”.

Fund officials said they would not be prepared to put a proposal for a third Greek bailout to the Washington-based organisation’s board unless it included both a commitment to economic reform and debt relief.

According to the IMF, Greece should have a 20-year grace period before making any debt repayments and final payments should not take place until 2055. It would need €10bn to get through the next few months and a further €50bn after that.

The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the IMF’s intervention saying in a TV interview that what the IMF said was never put to him during negotiations.

Source: The Guardian

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