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October 22, 2021

Greece ‘may renegotiate rescue loans’

Greece may seek to ease its debt burden by renegotiating its bailout terms, the Greek finance minister said on Monday. BBC reports. Yannis Stournaras told German newspaper Handelsblatt this could involve lower interest payments and more time to repay EUR 240 bln in loans. It comes a day after he conceded that Greece may face a hole in its finances of up to 10bn euros. Speculation over Athens’ borrowing needs comes at a sensitive time, with German elections due in September.
Earlier this month German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said for the first time that Greece will need another bailout to plug a forthcoming funding gap. The Greek bailout remains a sensitive topic in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel facing re-election on 22 September, and many German voters feel they have already contributed enough to European bailouts.
Stournaras told German business daily Handelsblatt on Monday that it may not be necessary for Greece to seek a third bailout package from European partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after all. This was despite having himself alluded to the possibility of a EUR 10 bln package in an interview on Sunday with the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, and insisting that it should not come with any more austerity conditions attached. The IMF last month estimated Greece would need around EUR 11bln in 2014/15. Instead, Stournaras expressed optimism that the government could manage within the terms of its existing bailouts.
He also criticised his own countrymen’s habit of avoiding taxes – an issue often highlighted in the German tabloid press – admitting that many treated is as “a kind of national sport”.

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