Greece delayed a key payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday, opting instead to bundle all its June payments into one big lump sum at the end of the month. Only one other country has negotiated such a payment plan—and overnight its name is trending in Greece.
Over 30 years ago the sub-Saharan African country of Zambia asked the IMF to delay its repayment. Now, #Zambia has become a top hashtag on Twitter in Greece—along with #takarasians, which is a Greek television chat show and #onlinemega, a major Greek television network.
News emerged Thursday that Greece would skip its 300 million euro ($338 million) payment to the IMF due at the end of the week.
By pushing all its repayments back to the end of the month, Athens hopes to have struck a reforms-for-aid deal with its international bailout supervisors by then and thereby be able to afford the big bill.
“The non-payment is more a show of defiance and means the payments in June will be bundled together and paid in one sum of about 1.6 billion euros at the end of the month,” said Derek Halpenny, European head of global markets research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, in a note on Friday.
“This is allowed by the IMF but is meant more for countries that struggle due to administrative difficulties to make numerous payments over a short period rather than for a country struggling to pay.”
Anything in common?
This is likely to be the first time #Zambia has trended in Greece. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorizes links with Zambia as “limited” and neither country has an embassy in the other. Around 400 Greeks live in Zambia, compared with 340,000 Greek expatriates in Germany and 40,000-45,000 Greeks living permanently in the U.K.
Zambia, a former British colony, is categorized by the World Bank as a lower-middle income country, while Greece is graded “high income.”
The World Economic Forum ranks Greece 81st out of 144 countries for competitiveness, just above Zambia, which comes in at 96.
Greece ranks 69th in the world in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, meaning it is seen as somewhat less corrupt than Zambia, which ranks 85th.