Merkel Lawmaker Sees 'Small Concessions' on Greece’s Bailout

Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 10:17 AM

 

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Concessions are possible for Greece so long as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras shows a willingness to meet the main targets set out in his country’s bailout program, a senior lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said.

A precedent for program adjustments was made with the first Greek bailout, when the country secured lower interest rates and longer maturities on bilateral loans than those originally set, Norbert Barthle, the Christian Democratic Union’s budget spokesman in parliament, said in a telephone interview.

“Small concessions are feasible provided they are strictly made within the framework of the second aid program,” Barthle said. “For instance, the interest and maturity on loans could be adjusted, as in the case of the first aid package for Greece.”

Barthle’s comments add to signs of an easing in Germany’s resistance to granting Greece more room as it struggles to meet the terms laid down by its international creditors in a fifth year of recession. Samaras, whose ruling coalition favors an extension of its fiscal adjustment program by two years, is due to meet with Merkel in Berlin on Aug. 24, and will travel to Paris the next day for talks with President Francois Hollande.

Euro Rises

Stocks and the euro gained, with the 17-nation single currency rising to a six-week high against the yen. It bought $1.242 at 12:27 p.m. in Berlin, up 0.6 percent.

Spain’s 10-year bond yield fell seven basis points to 6.19 percent after sliding to 6.16 percent Monday, the lowest since July 2. Italian 10-year yields fell nine basis points to 5.67 percent. Equivalent German debt yielded 1.55 percent, up 4 basis points.

While Germany won’t approve more money for Greece, existing aid payments could be brought forward, Michael Meister, a deputy leader of Merkel’s party, said separately.

“Adjustments are conceivable within the financial framework,” Meister said, reiterating comments reported earlier today in the Die Welt newspaper.

“Bringing payments forward is only possible if there’s plausible proof that it won’t create new fiscal gaps later.” If the International Monetary Fund were to go along with such an approach, “this would be conceivable,” he said.

Parliament Approval

The German Parliament’s Budget Committee would be called upon to approve any adjustments to Greece’s program rather than a vote going to the full plenary session, Barthle said. That would probably make the concessions easier to pass.

“What’s utterly important is the will of the Greeks to fulfil the terms of financial help,” Barthle said. “The ball is in the Greeks’ court.”

Greece’s so-called troika of international creditors — the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — returns to Athens early next month. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker visits Athens Wednesday to discuss the country’s request for an extension to its fiscal adjustment program.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said late yesterday that an 11.5 billion-euro ($14.3 billion) package of spending cuts for the next two years is still under consideration by the government and will be ready by the time the troika returns.

Stournaras presented a 14 billion-euro package of spending cuts to Samaras, Athens-based newspaper Ta Nea reported Tuesday, without citing anyone.

The package, which includes cuts of between 2 percent and 20 percent to pensions and as much as a 35 percent reduction in pay for employees in state-run companies, will be finalised in talks with the country’s creditors by Sept. 14, Ta Nea said.

Barthle’s comments on a possible lowering of interest rates on Greek loans were reported earlier today in the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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