Debt needs to be restruc­tured for re­pay­ment, says Greek PM Tsipras

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY DEREK GATOPOULOS AND RAF CASERT

Greece will be un­able to re­pay mas­sive bailout debts with­out even­tu­ally re­struc­tur­ing them, the prime min­is­ter said, as pres­sure from lenders mounted on Athens to pro­duce vi­able cost-cut­ting re­forms to un­lock emer­gency funds and pre­vent de­fault.

Alexis Tsipras told Greek law­mak­ers late Mon­day that his twom­onth-old gov­ern­ment had not aban­doned its pledge to seek a debt set­tle­ment and push for more gen­er­ous deficit tar­gets.

“There is the recog­ni­tion ( from lenders) of the need to fi­nally begin a de­bate on the nec­es­sary re­struc­tur­ing of the Greek debt,” he said.

“Be­cause with­out such an in­ter­ven­tion it is im­pos­si­ble to re­pay it.”

Greece’s re­serves are run­ning low on money needed to re­pay debts and keep the coun­try run- ning af­ter trou­bled ne­go­ti­a­tions with lenders and early gen­eral elec­tions in Jan­uary stalled the pay­out of more than 7 bil­lion eu­ros (US$7.6 bil­lion) left in bailout funds for months.

In Brussels, EU Com­mis­sion spokesman Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas said a deal with Greece “re­quires a lot of tech­ni­cal work” even af­ter hours of meet­ings to dis­cuss the Tsipras gov­ern­ment pro­pos­als over the week­end.

Athens faces debt re­pay­ments and rollovers of nearly 3 bil­lion eu­ros (US$3.3 bil­lion) in April, mainly in the mid­dle of the month, with obligations ris­ing fur­ther in the com­ing months. Not be­ing able to raise money on in­ter­na­tional bond mar­kets, Greece de­pends on bailout cred­i­tors for the money to meet those obligations.

Ger­many, the big­gest in­di­vid­ual cred­i­tor to Greece’s bailouts, in­sists a lot more still needed to be done. Fi­nance Min­istry spokesman Martin Jaeger said the talks were “to be hon­est a lit­tle hard to eval­u­ate — clearly not an of­fi­cially sub­mit­ted com­pre­hen­sive re­form list.”

The Com­mis­sion’s Schi­nas ap­peared a bit more op­ti­mistic, say­ing the con­tin­u­a­tion of the dis­cus­sions “is a pos­i­tive sign that shows will­ing­ness and se­ri­ous­ness of all sides to con­struc­tively en­gage.”

So far, Greece says re­worked re­forms for 2015 would yield 3 bil­lion eu­ros from mea­sures it ar­gues wouldn’t de­press eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in Greece — cuts to salaries and pen­sions are out.

An of­fi­cial in Athens said last week that the re­forms had been cost-as­sessed and would still leave Greece with a pri­mary bud­get sur­plus — what’s left af­ter debt pay­ments — of 1.5 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct in 2015 and growth of around 1.4 per­cent.

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