ECB estimates debt to peak next year at 161 pct

The European Central Bank estimated on Thursday that before starting to decline, Greece?s debt will peak at 161 percent of the country?s gross domestic product next year, provided that Greece promotes its fiscal streamlining program efficiently.

The monthly report from the ECB forecasts Greek debt to get to no more than 127 percent of GDP by 2020, but this is a far cry from the 60 percent limit set by the European Stability and Development Pact.

?Achieving this downward trajectory crucially hinges on the government?s willingness and ability to persevere with fiscal consolidation and implement the structural reform and privatization programs in full,? the bank said.

Meanwhile the Financial Times proposed on Thursday a haircut for Greek bonds of as much as 80 percent, which it deems necessary for Greek solvency to be maintained.

The London-based newspaper suggested that the restructuring had better take place just once, in a way that will not require a second attempt. In Greece?s case the public debt ought to be cut by at least half, and preferably be brought to 60 percent of GDP, which is the eurozone target. ?A smaller haircut may not be sufficient to restore the country?s solvency and allow it to return to the markets,? the FT?s Lex column added.

It cited data from Barclays Capital showing that for Greece to restore its solvency, it will need to have a primary surplus of 7.4 percent of GDP by 2015.

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