SYRIZA in row with Finance Ministry over T-bill warning

With less than two weeks of this brief election campaign left, SYRIZA became embroiled in an argument with the Finance Ministry on Monday after the latter warned the opposition party that it would not be able to meet funding needs by issuing T-bills if it comes to power.

The Finance Ministry reacted to comments from SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras in an interview in which he said that a leftist government would overcome any financing obstacles in March, while it may be in negotiations with the eurozone, via short-term borrowing.

The ministry, though, pointed out that Greece reached the 15-billion-euro treasury bill limit agreed with the troika in December.

It also said that Greek banks might not have access to the liquidity they would need to buy the T-bills anyway.

“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 program or if it has not been granted an extension to complete it after February 28,” the ministry said.

“The ministry has no right to interfere in the elections,” said SYRIZA. “Which officials received such orders and from whom to put together this statement? It is clear the Finance Ministry is operating as an annex to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s office.”

Government spokesman Stefanos Anagnostou argued that SYRIZA was only upset by the statement because it exposed the weakness in the party’s plans.

“The Finance Ministry statement on the T-bills upset SYRIZA because it deconstructs another lie: SYRIZA’s gall is such that it insists on announcing things that it knows are not possible.”

Greece has 2.5 billion euros of debt obligations to meet in March. Of this, 1.4 billion euros is a loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund, 800 million euros will go toward interest payments and 79 million euros is to meet the maturity of a bond that was not restructured in the 2012 Private Sector Initiative (PSI).