Fin24

IMF chief comments 'humiliate Greece'

2012-05-27 15:19

Athens - Greece's socialist leader has accused International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde of trying to "humiliate" his crisis-hit country by saying that Greeks avoid paying taxes.

"Nobody can humiliate the Greek people during the crisis, and I say this today addressing specifically Ms. Lagarde... who with her stance insulted the Greek people," Evangelos Venizelos told an election rally filmed late Saturday and broadcast on Sunday.

"I call on her to re-think what she wanted to say."

On Friday the British newspaper The Guardian quoted Lagarde as urging Greeks to "help themselves collectively" by all paying their taxes, saying she was more concerned about sub-Saharan Africans in poverty than Greeks hit by the economic crisis.

The comments drew thousands of comments on her Facebook page, largely from Greeks criticising the remarks.

Late on Saturday the IMF chief responded: "I am very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing. That's why the IMF is supporting Greece in its endeavour to overcome the current crisis."

"An important part of this effort is that everyone should carry their fair share of the burden, especially the most privileged and especially in terms of paying their taxes."

Greece made a deal in 2010 to receive hundreds of billions of euros (dollars) in bailout funds from the IMF and the EFSF, a European Union bailout fund, to rescue it from financial collapse.

The country will head to the polls for a second time in six weeks on June 17 in a general election that could determine whether it continues to receive IMF funds and stays in the eurozone.