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Greece won't need new bailout funds: Samaras

Greece will not need another bailout from its European partners once the current two programmes run out, the country's prime minister Antonis Samaras said in a German newspaper interview Thursday.

FRANKFURT: Greece will not need another bailout from its European partners once the current two programmes run out, the country's prime minister Antonis Samaras said in a German newspaper interview Thursday.

Asked by the business daily Handelsblatt whether Greece would require a third bailout programme, Samaras replied: "No, we won't need that."

The Greek leader disputed the prognosis by the International Monetary Fund that Athens faces a financial shortfall of 12.5 billion euros (US$17 billion) in the coming years.

"I don't see any such shortfall, because we've already covered most of that," Samaras said.

"We've got lots of ideas how to cover the rest without having to take out new loans."

The so-called Troika -- the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF -- charged with overseeing the Greek bailout programmes "have often had to revise their forecasts in the past, because we more than met the targets," Samaras said.

The leader said he was confident that Greece would come out of recession and economic growth would help the government get its finances back in order.

Athens would, as agreed with its creditors, be able to bring down its debt ratio from 175 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) at present to below 110 per cent by 2022, Samaras insisted.

That would be possible "as long as everyone involved sticks to their commitments," Samaras said.

"Greece must press ahead with its structural reforms, boost growth and implement our fiscal policy. And our creditors must also stand by what they've said -- to talk about debt alleviation as soon as Greece has achieved a primary surplus," he said.

The debt alleviation could take the form of, say, lower interest rates, longer loan maturities, additional years of no repayment, "or a combination of such measures," Samaras said.

"We want to discuss this with the eurogroup after the summer."

If such measures "enable Greece to put the crisis behind it and stand on its own two feet again, that would be a major success for Europe as a whole," Samaras said.

Asked about the current debate over a possible relaxation of Europe's fiscal rules, enshrined in the Stability and Growth Pact, Samaras said: "Competitiveness and growth go hand in hand. I don't see it as a dilemma."

But he insisted that "we should retain the pact's fundamental structures. The pact does not prevent us from boosting growth."

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