Samaras Sees Hope for Loan Deal

After being upstaged when Eurozone finance ministers couldn’t agree on releasing a long-delayed $38.8 billion loan installment to keep Greece’s economic alive, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said after a European Union budget meeting failed that he believes the monies for Greece could be released next week.

The finance ministers are set to meet again in Brussels on Nov. 26 after a frustrating week in which they, and European Union leaders, couldn’t reach any agreements on helping Greece or setting the EU budget.

Samaras, who was at the failed budget meeting, Samaras told journalists he felt encouraged by the discussions he had on the sidelines of the talks. “We have stopped hearing people saying it is just Greece’s fault,” he said. “We now have some strong supporters. The talks will go on right up to the last minute.”

Samaras had barely been able to get the Parliament that his uneasy coalition agrees to pass a $17.45 billion spending cut and tax hike plan that the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) demanded in return for the loan, which is the first in a series of monies in a second bailout of $173 billion. Greece had been surviving on a first series of $152 billion in rescue loans.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to hold a teleconference on Saturday to resume their discussion on how to handle the Greek problem after the failed Eurogroup meeting. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker expressed confidence that a solution would be found next week.

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini has seen the data that Eurozone finance ministers were studying during their meeting and it suggests that regardless of any debt restructuring, Greece will continue to need 8.4 billion euros ($10.89 billion )to cover its financing needs until 2016.

It also pinpoints that there is a need to find another 10 billion euros ($12.9 billion)  to ensure Greek debt is at 124 percent of GDP in 2020 rather than 144 percent if no action at all is taken.

There are several proposals on the table in order to reduce Greece’s debt by 40 to 45 billion euros ($51.8-$58.3 billion) by 2020. The key element to this is a bond buyback scheme, in which Greece would be lent about 9 billion euros ($11.6 billion) to repurchase its own notes at an estimated 35 percent of their nominal value. This would lead to a debt reduction of about 18 billion euros, or $23.2 billion.

A reduction of 0.9 percent on the interest rate on 53 billion euros in bilateral loans made to Greece as part of the first bailout would reduce the country’s debt by about 4 billion euros. The European Central Bank returning the gains it has made from buying Greek bonds on the secondary market would save about 5 billion euros ($68.7 billion.) Another billion could be saved by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) waving its fee on loans to Greece.


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