Greek PM says sure will get aid before cash runs out November 16

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 19, 2012 10:07 AM
Greek PM says sure will get aid before cash runs out November 16

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Debt-laden Greece expects to get the bailout money it needs before its cash runs out in the middle of next month, the prime minister said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters at a European Union summit, Antonis Samaras added that the country would go broke if it did not.

"I believe that the disbursement will have finished by mid-November. The country's euro cash reserves are running out on November 16," he said.

He admitted that members of the "Troika" of lenders - the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank - still disagreed over the size of Greece's debt and how to cut it.

The "Troika" has been withholding about 36 billion euros of funds the country needs to repay debt and refloat its cash-strapped banks. It wants action on cuts and reforms set under the terms of a 130 billion euro EU/IMF bailout agreed in March.

A number of European leaders at the summit praised Athens for its progress in talks with its lenders, and most austerity cuts and reforms have been agreed.

"This is the last bitter glass we have to swallow," Samaras said, adding that European leaders have acknowledged Greece's progress in speeding up its reforms.

Greece is nonetheless seen missing its debt and deficit targets, which has fuelled talk that the country might be forced to leave the euro zone. But euro zone leaders said on Thursday good progress had been made to bring the adjustment program back on track.

Several of the bloc's leaders voiced support for Greece earlier this month, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel who visited Athens last week. French President Francois Hollande and Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti will also soon visit Athens, Samaras said.

Troika experts, however, still disagree on some aspects, Samaras said.

The IMF said earlier this month that it expected Greek debt to stand at 153 percent of GDP in 2017, a much higher level than the 120 percent target the country is supposed to hit in 2020 under its bailout plan.

Several economists have said that Greece will need further debt relief from creditors including official lenders, after a restructuring agreed with private creditors helped cut about 100 billion euros from its debt earlier this year.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou)