ECONOMY

Stournaras eyes another haircut

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said another Greek debt restructuring is possible, but only on the condition that Greece secures a primary surplus. That will not be known before the end of 2013, he said in an interview with state broadcaster NET TV.

“Another [restructuring] would be welcome. We will not say no to another haircut. We express our arguments but it does not depend on us,” he said, adding that both Greece and the International Monetary Fund have spoken in favor of a haircut but the proposal was not accepted.

The minister did stress, however, that the recent decision by the Eurogroup provides for a new reduction in the country’s debt if the Greek state manages to end this year with more revenues than expenses, excluding interest payments.

Stournaras also confirmed that following the affirmative parliamentary vote on tax reform last Friday and the law ratifying the Legislative Acts on Monday, the Euro Working Group of eurozone finance ministry officials will recommend that the Eurogroup scheduled for next Monday approve the disbursement of the January bailout tranche, which amounts to 9.2 billion euros.

What he did rule out was the possibility of a new settlement for taxpayers’ expired debts, as it appears that the ministry has failed to convince the country’s creditors that a new settlement is necessary even though such debts have soared to 53 billion euros. Of that figure, no less than 12 billion was created within 2012.

“Based on logic and the figures, the chances of us succeeding are much greater than those of failing,” the minister said, asking citizens to be patient. He added that if the country fares better than the targets set, it will be able to decide by itself how it will administer its surplus. That would be either for the benefit of the poorest social groups, by expanding the application of solidarity benefits, or for tax reduction (in the case of property) or for the reduction of value-added tax on food catering.

Regarding Hellenic Postbank and the opposition’s reaction to its planned split and privatization, Stournaras said that “we have to sanitize it. There are no magic solutions.”