Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday that the country?s finances would be adequate for the country to pay its bills through mid-November, a month longer than had been anticipated, noting that the most important thing for the debt-wracked government was the finalization of a broader European rescue fund which was hammered out in July by eurozone countries but is not yet up and running.
?Until the middle of November we will have no problem,? Venizelos told a press conference, quashing mounting speculation about a default.
His comments came just a few hours after Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said that a decision on the release of a crucial tranche of emergency funding to Greece would not be made, as scheduled, on October 13 but on an unspecified date once foreign auditors, currently in Athens, complete their review of Greece?s efforts to put its fiscal house in order.
Juncker was speaking from a Eurogroup meeting that yielded an agreement on a collateral deal for Finland, which had demanded extra financial guarantees to participate in a second bailout package for Greece. Elaborating on the deal yesterday, Venizelos said Greece will issue 880 million euros in bonds to Finland as collateral.
On the issue of Greece?s rescue funding, government officials had indicated last month that the country would run out of money in mid-October if it does not receive the 8-billion-euro installment.
Questioned by reporters about where the extra breathing room had come from, Venizelos said there had never been an official deadline.
He insisted that the immediate release of rescue funding was not Greece?s main concern. ?The main issue is not the release of the sixth tranche but convincing the markets that we have all reached a viable solution,? Venizelos told reporters shortly after returning to Athens from a meeting with his eurozone counterparts in Luxembourg.
Describing the talks in Luxembourg as ?constructive? and ?friendly toward Greece,? Venizelos added that eurozone ministers were also reviewing the size of private sector involvement (PSI) in a second international bailout package.
The minister doused speculation about even more austerity measures. ?There will be no new measures,? he said, noting that the implementation of measures announced already would be adequate ?as long as the state mechanism functions and we see cooperation by citizens.?
A new raft of reforms -- the centerpiece of which is a controversial plan to cut thousands of public sector jobs -- will all be voted on in Parliament by the end of this month, Venizelos said.