Portuguese opposition head warns against failure
LISBON (Reuters) – The leader of Portugal’s opposition Social Democrats warned yesterday the country has no room for failure in meeting the austerity conditions of its 78-billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Social Democrat head Pedro Passos Coelho has backed the tough conditions of the bailout and could very well end up having to enact its terms if he wins a June 5 snap general election, which polls currently suggest he will. “In the next four years we have no margin of error to execute the macroeconomic plan negotiated by the current government that is the condi- tion for our desperate external help,” the center-right leader told a conference. “We have to fulfill this program.” Passos Coelho was perhaps mindful of Greece’s situation in his comments. Greece became the first eurozone country to seek a bailout, a year ago, but the IMF warned on Wednesday that Athens must redouble efforts to meet its fiscal program and European officials have raised the possibility of a debt restructuring. months to fund rescue loans for the two eurozone nations, the EU said yesterday. The announcement came two days after the bloc’s finance ministers approved a three-year 78-billion-euro ($111 billion) bailout for Portugal under a program that requires Lisbon to slash spending and sell public assets. Ireland was granted its own 67.5-billion-euro bailout late last year after a banking crisis blew a massive hole in its public finances. The EU and its core eurozone bloc will use two top-rated financial mechanisms to conduct various borrowing operations for the two nations between May 23 and July 15. The instruments issued for the two countries “should be mainly in standard benchmark maturities of five to 10 years de- nominated in euros,” the EU said in a statement. The International Monetary Fund will provide “complementary disbursements” as agreed under the joint EU-IMF rescues for both nations.