Cyprus Mail

Greece says not backing down on debt relief goal

By George Georgiopoulo

Greece has not given up on its aim to renegotiate its debt to render it manageable, the country’s deputy finance minister said on Monday as talks between Athens and its lenders on reforms to unlock aid continue.

“The government has not abandoned any claim regarding its aim to make the country’s debt viable,” Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas told financial daily Naftemporiki.

Greece’s public debt burden reached more than 177 per cent of national output last year. The country’s new government came to power in January promising to demand that its euro zone partners let it write off a large part of that debt.

But it has said little about the issue in recent weeks, as Greece struggles to cope with a cash crunch and the government focuses on reaching agreement with its lenders on reforms that would unlock the remaining funds of the country’s bailout.

“The solutions are known – either there will be a haircut or it will be extended, or (repayment) will be linked to an increase in output or exports, or there will be lower interest rates,” Mardas told the paper.

He reiterated a plan to link the repayment of Greece’s 318 billion euros of debt with economic growth or exports, along the lines of a deal applied for post-World War Two Germany.

Representatives from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — informally called the Brussels Group – discussed Greece’s reform proposals over the weekend. Lenders said it could take several more days before a proper list was ready.

Cash-strapped Greece will run out of money by April 20 if it does not secure funding from its European partners, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras chaired a cabinet meeting late on Sunday which approved the reforms list and targets for a primary budget surplus of 1.5 pct of national output this year and growth of 1.4 per cent, a government official said.

Officials in Athens and Brussels are continuing talks in hopes of making enough progress for euro zone finance ministers to reconvene soon to discuss the reforms.

Tsipras is due to speak on the reforms package in parliament later on Monday.

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