ECONOMY

Greece will need troika consent to cover funding needs via T-bills, warns Finance Ministry

Greece’s leftist opposition Syriza party will need EU/IMF approval to issue short-term debt to cover funding needs in the first quarter if it takes power after a Jan. 25 election, the finance ministry said on Monday.

Syriza, which is opposed to Greece’s international bailout and has pledged to reverse the austerity measures underpinning it, remains ahead of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ centre-right New Democracy party in opinion polls.

With about 15 billion euros of outstanding T-bills, Athens has already reached the upper limit for these debt instruments set by the international lenders funding its bailout — its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund.

Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras suggested in an interview on Saturday that T-bills could be used to cover Greece’s funding needs until March..

But the finance ministry said on Monday Athens would need its lenders’ consent to exceed the 15-billion-euro T-bill cap and that a swift completion of the final bailout review would ensure banks have sufficient liquidity to absorb T-bill issues.

“Greek banks will have difficulty in securing the necessary liquidity and buying T-bills if the country has not concluded the review of the current economic programme or if it has not got an extension to complete it after Feb. 28,» the ministry said in a statement.

The European Central Bank said last week that Greek banks’ access to its funding beyond February would depend on Athens successfully completing a final bailout review and reaching a deal on a follow-up plan with its lenders.

Negotiations with the lenders will resume once a new Greek government is in place, the IMF has said.

[Reuters]