'Greece will get more time to repay debt'

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 17, 2012 05:34 hrs

Greece will get more time to repay its debts to international lenders but will not get more money, Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter said in a newspaper interview printed on Sunday.

Asked by the Oesterreich newspaper if Athens would get a payment extension, she said: "Yes. We are still awaiting the troika report and Greece still has to get some things on track but we will achieve a cost-neutral extension."

She gave no further details.

Fekter was referring to a report being compiled by the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank on how well Athens is fulfilling terms on its international rescue package.

Fekter had said at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Cyrpus last week that Greece might be given more time to reach its fiscal targets but not more money.

EU officials have told Reuters that Athens is way behind on its debt-cutting programme but, having made strenuous efforts to shore up Spain and Italy, it would make no sense to tip Greece into default now and plunge the currency bloc back into chaos.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde has said it was worth considering giving Greece more time to make the cuts demanded of it by its bailout programme, something Athens has requested.

International lenders are likely to reach final decisions on the revised financing programme for Greece in the second half of October, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said. Greece's second bailout envisages Athens returning to international markets by 2015, but with two parliamentary elections in May and June after political parties struggled to form a coalition, the country has lost ground on its reform agenda.

Deepening recession has also made its targets less attainable.

Although the extent of the shortfall will not be known until next month, Greece is unlikely to win back investor confidence quickly and meet its targets, which include a primary surplus of 4.5 percent of economic output in 2014.

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