Reports suggest lenders discussing a third loan package

The next Greek government could be offered a six-month bailout extension, while a third loan package might be put together by the troika, according to reports on Friday.

Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported that European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund officials met in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the situation in Greece ahead of the January 25 elections.

“There will have to be an extension beyond February. It will be inevitable,” one eurozone official with knowledge of the talks told Reuters. “It could be six months more.”

The extension would have to be requested by the next Greek government, which will not be in a position to do so at the next Eurogroup as it takes place a day after the elections. SYRIZA has suggested that if it comes to power it would like a six-month window in which to negotiate new terms with Greece’s lenders but this will not necessarily mean asking for the bailout to be lengthened as well.

It also appears that the idea of a third package for Greece was discussed at the Brussels meeting.

“It was brainstorming. The discussion was about scenarios rather than any concrete decisions,” the official told Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some eurozone members are toying with the idea of whether Greece might need more loans.

Meanwhile, in Greece New Democracy is to focus on the mixed messages coming from the SYRIZA camp as it tries to close the gap on the leftists in the final few days of the campaign, sources told Kathimerini.

On Friday, New Democracy spokeswoman Maria Spyraki seized on comments by one of SYRIZA’s top officials, Yiannis Dragasakis, in which he suggested that a leftist government might not pay bonds held by the European Central Bank and national central banks which mature in July.

“This is the most cynical admission regarding the country’s destruction and it has come from the most official of lips,” said Spyraki in a statement. The conservatives also commented on claims by SYRIZA MP Yiannis Tolios that taxpayers would not have to pay the last two installments of the ENFIA property levy as the leftists would scrap it.

New Democracy also poked fun at SYRIZA candidate Rachil Makri over her claims that Greece could use the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) scheme to “print” up to 100 billion euros. “Why don’t they print 300 billion euros and wipe out Greece’s debt?” the conservatives said.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s party is expected to go on the front foot over the next few days in a bid to drive home what they believe are the contradictions in SYRIZA’s message. Samaras is due to give four TV interviews, with the first one possibly coming as early as Saturday.

Samaras also pledged on Friday that if he is re-elected “one of the first laws” that he will submit to Parliament is legislation seeking to ease the problems faced by some 60,000 to 65,000 Greeks who had taken out loans in Swiss francs and have seen their repayment costs shoot up by around 15 percent as a result of the decision on Thursday by the Swiss National Bank to remove the cap on the country’s currency.