ECONOMY

Hardouvelis says SYRIZA complacency may cause cash shortage

Greece risks running out of cash for its debt repayments in March if opposition SYRIZA rises to power in the upcoming January 25 election, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis told the Financial Times in an interview published on Thursday.

“I’m raising a flag because there is complacency about raising funds to pay our obligations and that complacency is not warranted,” Hardouvelis said.

SYRIZA has suggested that the country could avoid a cash crash by issuing short-term debt for purchase by local lenders and drawing on treasury reserves.

A fierce debate has been developing ahead of the snap election regarding the leftist party’s economic policy. SYRIZA chief Alexis Tsipras has maintained his lead in polls on promises of renegotiating Greece’s sovereign debt with the country’s creditors, while Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has accused the opposition party of throwing the country back into turmoil.

Hardouvelis urged SYRIZA to agree to a six-month extension of the country’s bailout program in order to allow for more time for a smooth exit from the memorandum signed with its partners, which could include a special credit line from the European Stability Mechanism.

“If we are not in a program as of March 1, that would mean a ‘dirty’ exit (from the bailout) . . . We would be on our own without any European support,” he told the Financial Times. “But six months would buy time to arrange a prudent exit from the program.”