Financial News: Finmin: fifth tranche not at risk

The fifth tranche of the bailout loans to Greece was not at risk, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said during a weekend news programme broadcast by a nationwide private TV channel on Saturday.
"The Greek government is doing the things it must do and it is obvious that if we do them - which we will - the release of the loan will continue. It is obvious that nothing is at risk," Papaconstantinou said, reassuring viewers that there was absolutely no reason to worry.

"We have taken all the provisions needed so that there will be absolutely no problem," he emphasised, adding that a solution was always found when the time approached.

"But in order to find this solutions, we must make sure the country is doing what has to be done. And we are doing what we must," he added.

Concerning the meeting of the political leaders and the main opposition's insistence that the government adopt New Democracy's 'Zappion II' programme in its entirety, Papaconstantinou replied that the government was open to discussing elements of the plan but could not adopt it in full because in its present form it would raise the deficit once again.

According to the finance minister, Prime Minister George Papandreou had said as much to New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and invited him to look at various elements of Zappion II with EU-IMF troika officials, stressing that he was prepared to discuss anything provided it resulted in a reduction of the deficit and not an increase.
On the issue of state-run public utilities and other agencies, Papaconstantinou said that they had begun reform programmes, their deficits significantly reduce and some were headed for privatisation, adding that some would be abolished if this was necessary though it was not easy.

He said the target set by the government was to reduce the workforce in the public sector in 2014 by 25 percent relative to that of 2009 and that it would achieve this by not replacing staff that left, ending contracts that were not permanent and closing entire agencies.

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