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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Greece tells EU it has no short-term cash problem and will present plan next week

Renee Maltezou

Greece has said it had no short-term cash problem and that it will hand its European Union partners a comprehensive plan next week for managing the transition to a new debt deal.

The EU has warned time is running out to avoid a financing crisis in Greece.

The new left-wing government in Athens has rejected the austerity that was forced upon the country by an EU/International Monetary Fund bailout and instead says it wants a "bridge agreement" until it has negotiated a new deal.

"We will present a comprehensive proposal on Wednesday," Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said, referring to a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels on that day.

Read more here: Greek charmer in the leather jacket finally comes unstuck 

Varoufakis was attending a cabinet meeting called to prepare the government's overall policy programme, which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will present to parliament on Sunday.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (L) look discontent as they address a news conference following talks at the finance ministry in Berlin. Photo: Reuters
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (L) look discontent as they address a news conference following talks at the finance ministry in Berlin. Photo: Reuters
Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's finance minister, left, looks towards Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's finance minister, during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin,
After yesterday's meeting between finance minister Yanos Varoufakis and his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaueble, Mr Varoufakis declined even to endorse the description that they had "agreed to disagree" (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on as his colleagues applaud during a parliament session of Syriza party lawmakers at the Greek Parliament in Athens yesterday (REUTERS/Kostas Tsironis)
Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Schaeuble in Berlin.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) welcomes Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) ahead of a meeting at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels February 4, 2015.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses a news conference after meeting European Parliament President Martin Schulz yesterday. Reuters.
French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Hollande stated, during the visit by Alexis Tsipras, that European Union rules and debt commitments must apply to all

On Friday, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, told Reuters that Greece had to apply for an extension of its reform-for-loans plan by February 16 to ensure the euro zone keeps backing it financially.

This is essentially an extension of the current bailout, something Greece has said it does not want and will not accept. It is due a 7.2 billion euro trance from the EU/IMF bailout, which it says it does not want because of the austerity strings attached.

Instead, Athens wants authority from the euro zone to issue more short-term debt to tide it over until a new deal is agreed, and to receive already-agreed profits that the European Central Bank and other central banks have gained from holding Greek bonds.

Read more here: Greece isolated at first meeting with senior euro zone officials  

Greece faces interest rate payments of around €2 billion over February and should repay a €1.5 billion loan to the IMF in March.

That has raised concerns the country may suffer a cash crunch, but this was dismissed today by the Greek official in charge of the government's accounts.

"During the time span of the negotiations there is no problem [of liquidity]. This does not mean that there will be a problem afterwards," Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said on Mega TV.

Asked whether the state may suffer a cash crunch if talks drag on until May, the minister said he did not expect the negotiations over a new deal to last that long.

"Even if they did, we can find money," he said.

Read more here: Greek, German ministers clash publicly as ECB snub hits Athens' banks

Reuters

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