ECONOMY

Greece needs further easing of loan terms

The government is holding out for a further easing of conditions for the repayment of its 110-billion-euro international loan, according to Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, who again ruled out the possibility of a Greek debt restructuring through a ?haircut.?

Speaking to French daily newspaper Liberation on Monday, Papaconstantinou became the first Greek official to admit the country may require a new extension of the repayment period.

?It would be better if we further lengthened the repayment schedule of the 110 billion euros that our partners have lent us and if we further lowered interest rates. That way we could meet our repayments,? he stated.

Asked by journalists in Athens what he meant in that statement, Papaconstantinou said, ?There is nothing new,? adding that he ?merely expressed the hope that we have an even better arrangement of the debt of 110 billion euros? in the future.

He also refused to give details as to how much of an extension Greece would require, but suggested that the country?s ability to serve its debt depends on creating and maintaining primary surpluses, high growth and the cost of debt management. He went on to stress that ?there can be no debt restructuring, no haircut.?

This came on the day that European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn suggested that Greek debt restructuring is not on the table as ?it is not part of our strategy and it will not be.?

Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker added on Monday that a Greek debt restructuring is not an option.

Representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are scheduled to arrive in Athens on Tuesday to continue their monitoring of the Greek fiscal streamlining, in order to evaluate whether the country has made adequate progress to receive its fifth tranche of financial aid, estimated at 12 billion euros.