A SCOT is at the heart of the Greek debt debacle.

Gerry Rice, director of communications with the International Monetary Fund, has been by the side of Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, who has suggested Greece should move to reform its economy before its European creditors give it a break on its debt.

Rice, an economics expert and Harvard scholar, is a key adviser to Lagarde, whose comments are known to have angered officials within the Greek government whose last-ditch plea for debt relief, a bailout extension and a €29 billion (£20 billion) loan was rejected by eurozone governments on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago after a eurozone meeting over the Greece crisis broke down Lagarde said there was an urgent need for dialogue "with adults in the room". She added: "We can only arrive at a resolution if there is a dialogue. Right now we're short of a dialogue."

Later it had emerged Greece had missed the deadline for a 1.5 billion euro (£1.1 billion) payment to the IMF. Greece became the first European Union country to fail to repay a loan to the IMF and is now formally in arrears.

It comes against a background where the credibility of the world's emergency lender is at stake, as well as the reputation of Lagarde, who has indicated she will seek reappointment to her managing director role when her term expires next July.

On Thursday, the IMF said the crisis-ridden country needs €52 billion (£37 billion) of extra funds over the next three years and large-scale debt relief to create "breathing space".

After two bailouts set up by the IMF in 2010 and 2012, worth about €240 billion (£171.3 billion), Greece now faces its fifth default.

Rice has said the debt-ridden nation can no longer receive further assistance from the fund until the arrears are cleared.

The Greek government now has two years to gradually pay the amount it owes, before it loses its voting rights and eventually gets expelled from the fund.

It faces another debt deadline from the European Central Bank on July 20.

Glasgow-born Rice, who was appointed communications director in December 2011, had spent 25 years with the World Bank in Washington before returning to Scotland in 1999 on a year's secondment with Scottish Enterprise at the behest of Donald Dewar around the time of devolution. During that time he carried out an analysis of the Scottish economy which was set out in a valedictory pamphlet he wrote for Glasgow University's business school.

His report on the Scottish economy, was one of the foundation reports for the then Scottish Executive's Smart Successful Scotland strategy. He was offered a senior post inside the administration of Henry McLeish, but turned it down.

The scholar from Glasgow's Calton was said at the time to have been shocked by the persistence of poverty in the land he left behind.

McLeish, who remains a devotee, drew heavily on Rice's analysis when setting out an agenda for Scotland encapsulated in the three Cs - a Scotland that is competitive, compassionate and confident.

Rice then argued that growth remains the most potent weapon against poverty and a job the best social policy. And the key to both higher growth and sustainable poverty reduction is, he argued, world-class education.

McLeish said: "Gerry is an extraordinary person; a great Scot and in my estimation a real patriot. He is a great diplomat, he has a superb intellect and he has an extraordinary sense for communications.

"On the world stage he is making quite an impact. He has been good for Scotland and is one of our unsung heroes. Because there are few Scots working at his level internationally.

"He will gain from his current experiences at IMF. There is no doubt in my mind that it would be good to call on Gerry Rice to help Scotland."

Rice, who was once tipped to replace Robert Crawford as the head of Scottish Enterprise, holds a PhD in modern history from Glasgow University and was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University. His PhD thesis on the establishment of the US Peace Corps was later published as The Bold Experiment.

As communications director, he is the IMF's chief spokesman, working closely with Lagarde and senior fund management on the communication of IMF operations, including policy and lending decisions.

An IMF source said: "On Greece, as chief spokesperson, he has consistently explained that a balanced approach is needed, consisting of appropriate economic reforms by the Greek authorities supported by appropriate financing and debt relief from the European partners."

During a 25-year career at the World Bank, he was known as a specialist in global economic development and also served as communications director, where he managed all aspects of the institution's external and internal communications.