Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras said the government needs to come up with 3.5 billion euros in revenues «now» in order to get its reform program back on track and before it can make any demands from the country’s lenders to ease the terms of its bailout deal.
Speaking in Brussels following a meeting of eurozone finance chiefs in which it was decided that the discussion on Greece’s fiscal adjustment program be postponed until September, Stournaras said «because the program is significantly delayed in many of its aspects, for the time being there is nothing [they] can say."
"We must bring the program back on track before we can make any demands,» Stournaras said, adding that while he did not discuss Greece being granted an extension to the program from the Eurogroup, he did «introduce the idea that once we receive a positive evaluation from the troika, we will suggest it."
Stournaras was referring to the government’s plan to ask for a two-year extension for meeting the fiscal targets outlined in its 130-billion-euro loan agreement with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the troika.
"The problem with an extension,» Stournaras said, «is that it will require further funding. They understand our position, but no one would commit that they will accept it."
The newly appointed finance minister said that the focus of his discussions with his eurozone peers was on whether Greece would be able to achieve its targets for September and whether it will be able to secure mid-term funding «before we receive the next installment of 31 billion euros.» Stournaras said that Greece can take «alternative measures» to cover its revenue needs, but that these «will not be easy, nor necessarily accepted."
He also said that discussions were held regarding measures for tackling the crippling recession, which has entered its fifth year.
"We will be able to achieve the targets in absolute numbers, but not in terms of percentage of GDP,» Stournaras said, adding that the government needs «3.5 billion euros now» to achieve September’s targets, and to keep the recession just «below 7 percent of GDP."
Stournaras said that «on a personal level, the climate was good."
"We have to show that we understand the program,» he added.