October 20, 2017

Greece on Track for More Aid, Official Says

BERLIN — The highest-ranking German in the European Central Bank said Monday that Greece could be eligible for additional aid and debt relief next year if it continued to fulfill promises made for the assistance it was already receiving.

The German, Jörg Asmussen, a member of the central bank’s policy-making executive board, said in an interview here that he was not signaling a new attitude toward Greece by its euro zone benefactors, but simply reiterating decisions made last year.

“There is no change of policy,” Mr. Asmussen said, noting that euro zone leaders already decided in November they would re-examine Greece’s needs early in 2014.

Still, his comments came as Greece has become an issue ahead of Germany’s national elections on Sept. 22. Mr. Asmussen’s former boss, Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, put Greece back on the public agenda when he said last week that more aid was certain, rather than merely very likely. Mr. Asmussen was a top aide to Mr. Schäuble before joining the E.C.B. in 2011.

Mr. Asmussen′s comments on Monday referred to a decision last November by the euro zone finance ministers, or the Eurogroup. They agreed that Greece would be eligible for a fresh look at its needs as soon as it was able to finance current government spending on its own, not counting interest payments, and had undertaken steps to improve its economic performance and fulfilled other promises to its international lenders: the E.C.B., the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

If “the debt is still considered to be too high, the Eurogroup will consider to take additional measures,” Mr. Asmussen said. “That is the point of time when we will look at the debt question again. This is already decided and made public in November last year.”

The I.M.F. has estimated that Greece will have a financing shortage around 10.9 billion euros, or $14.6 billion, for 2014 and 2015. Greek Finance Ministry officials have suggested that the shortage will be smaller than the I.M.F. estimate, which is subject to revision, but they have been exploring ways to plug the gap. In an interview over the weekend with the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, Greece’s finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, cited a figure of 10 billion euros as the likely shortage.

Mr. Asmussen, who met in Athens last week with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, said there were signs of stabilization in the country, which has suffered from soaring unemployment and plummeting economic outlet.

Referring to recent economic data, Mr. Asmussen said, “For the first time in years there were no negative surprises.”

Alison Smale contributed reporting from Berlin and Niki Kitsantonis from Athens.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/business/global/greece-on-track-for-more-aid-official-says.html?partner=rss&emc=rss