Without the disbursement of the 5th tranche of the EU-IMF support loan, Greece would default on payments, finance minister George Papaconstantinou warned late Monday night on a private television station, adding that salaries and pensions could not be paid and the country would 'pull down the shutters', but stressed that he has no doubt that the 5th tranche will be forthcoming.
Speaking on private SKAI tv channel, Papaconstantinou explained that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cannot disburse its part of the loan to Greece without guarantees from Europe that in 2012 Greece will have the support of its EU partners.
He added that he has no doubt that both the 5th tranche and ensurance for the future would be given.
Asked what would happen if the negotiations (for political consensus on the economy) reach a dead end and the country is obliged to hold early general elections, Papaconstantinou warned that (early) elections would be catastrophic for the country, but added that "in a democracy, there are no impasses".
To another question, he said that the Medium-Term Program will be voted through parliament with a simple majority, and not a reinforced majority of 180 votes in the 300-member House.
He further said that the government was mulling changes and reductions to the 12,000 euros tax-free ceiling. "We are examining some scenarios, we are looking at some changes and reductions, and exceptions of certain population groups such as pensioners," he said.