Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who said the country will on the road to recovery and maybe even return to international markets by the end of 2014, said he nonetheless may need to ask for additional aid from international lenders who are already putting up $325 billion in two bailouts that have failed to right the economy yet.
With the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) saying it had identified a hole fo at least $11-$14 billion in the economy next year because tax revenues are off projections with austerity measures killing consumption and spending, Samaras acknowledged the country may need more help.
Samaras told Greek daily Ethnos that the Troika had pledged in 2012 to provide additional assistance if it was needed, as long as Greece stuck to its commitments, which it has not in full so far. These include recording a budget surplus, which Samaras has said Greece is on course to achieve in 2013, although critics said the government is using accounting tricks, such as not paying all its bills, to make the picture rosier.
“Last November’s agreement with our creditors states that… if Greece needs to fill a financial gap in the coming years, then on condition that it abides by its commitments, there will be a sort of supplementary aid,” he said.
Athens has been locked out of the private markets since the international loans began in 2010 and made it worse a year later when then-finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, the current PASOK Socialist leader who is Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister in the coalition government led by the New Democracy Conservative leader Samaras, hit investors with 74 percent losses.
That nearly wiped out some bondholders in the Diaspora who had put their faith and money in their homeland, and destroyed Cyprus’ banking system, leading that country to seek a 10 billion euros ($13 billion) bailout from the Troika.
Athens has not issued long-term debt since 2010 and currently only places treasury bills of up to six months to help it stay afloat between payments from its bailout. Asked whether Greece would be able to access the long-term bond markets in 2014, Samaras replied, “of course.”
It remains to be seen if investors who got burned are willing to take a chance on Greece again, especially as the government also hopes to do to the same to the Troika, which would force taxpayers in the other 16 Eurozone countries to pick up the tab for generations of wild overspending by Greeks.
In a speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair on Sept. 7, he said the budget surplus had reached 1.1-billion euros ($1.45-billion) in the first seven months of 2013, amid signs that the extremely deep recession is easing. That doesn’t include huge interest payments due, however. Greek debt stands at 321 billion euros ($423.44 billion) and is on target to hit 176 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of the year.