ECONOMY

Greece to get two-year extension, finance minister tells Parliament

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras says Greece has achieved an extension to meet the terms of its international bailout program.

Greeces government has been locked in talks with its international creditors over a ?13.5 billion ($17.56 billion) package of new austerity measures for the next two years. Its current multibillion-euro bailout program, under which it receives rescue loans in return for imposing reform measures, was due to run out at the end of 2014. Greece has been asking for the program to be extended by another two years to 2016.

Speaking in Parliament Wednesday, Stournaras said that Greece now had an extension to reform its finances, without specifying its length.

Without the extension, he said, the country would have had to impose measures of ?18.5 billion instead of ?13.5 billion.

Earlier in the day, the European Commission and the German government denied a newspaper report that Greece’s lenders have agreed to extend the time Athens has to complete its fiscal adjustment by two years.

“I am not in a position to confirm anything in the report,» said Simon O’Connor, a spokesman for Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, on Wednesday. «There is no agreement yet.»

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Wednesday, in a report that mentioned a draft memorandum but cited no named sources, that Athens’ economic program will be extended until 2016 but it’s unclear how Greece would be financed beyond 2014.

But Steffen Kampeter, a German deputy finance minister, told Deutschlandfunk radio that Berlin is still waiting for a report from Greeces debt inspectors, and «everything before that is reading tea leaves.”

Top European Central Bank official Joerg Asmussen told Germany’s ARD television that theres still no final agreement between the debt inspectors and Greece.

[Combined reports]