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Greek finance minister denies threat of economic collapse
Over in Greece finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos has reacted furiously to claims – issued by parliament’s state budget office no less – that the country faces economic collapse if its staggering debt load is not substantially reduced.
Our correspondent Helena Smith reports from Athens
The budget office’s dramatic warning that bankrupcy looms unless Greece gets debt relief was dismissed outright by Tsakalotos.
In comments to the leftwing daily, Efimerida twn Syntakton, the Greek finance minister described the claim as a “mistake” based on “outdated figures.”
“This is a error,” he said insisting that the office had been lead to the wrong conclusions on account of “erroneous calculations” over the amount of debt repayments Greece will be called to make between 2021 and 2026.
In a subsequent announcement the finance ministry said the House office had employed data from 2013 before short-term debt relief measures were agreed by eurogroup finance ministers in May 2016 and when the interest rates on payments was much higher.
Parliament’s president Nikos Voutsis went further accusing the state budget office of fear-mongering, saying:
“I am surprised at the use of invalid data and ensuing public relations stunt.”
In its quarterly report released Monday the budget office warned that bankruptcy was inevitable because interest payments on maturing debt after 2021 were so high.
“Without substantial debt relief, Greece will go bankrupt,” it warned.
At 180%, Greece has the highest debt to GDP ratio of any EU member state.
But with less than a year to go before the country exits a third international bailout progamme, Athens’ leftist-led coalition is keen to change the narrative to one of hope after years of gruelling austerity meted out in exchange for rescue funds.
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