Greece sees problems repaying IMF, ECB; Germans air mistrust

Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:56pm EST
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By Lefteris Papadimas and Stephen Brown

ATHENS/BERLIN (Reuters) - Greece said on Wednesday it will struggle to make debt repayments to the IMF and the European Central Bank this year as Germany's finance minister voiced open doubts about Athens' trustworthiness.

A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue for the currency bloc's most heavily indebted member, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece's financial position.

"We will not have liquidity problems for the public sector. But we will definitely have problems in making debt payments to the IMF now and to the ECB in July," he told Alpha Radio.

He put no figure on the funding gap. After interest payments this month of about 2 billion euros, Athens must repay an IMF loan of around 1.6 billion that matures in March and about 7.5 billion in maturing bonds held by the ECB in July and August.

Greece is due to receive 7.2 billion euros in remaining EU/IMF bailout funds if it successfully completes the programme.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, revelling in his role as the euro zone's grumpy paymaster, said no further aid would be paid out until Athens fulfilled all the conditions.

"The question now is whether one can believe the Greek government's assurances or not. There's a lot of doubt in Germany, that has to be understood," he told SWR2 radio.

Fuelling German suspicion, a hardline leftist in Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' radical new government appeared to row back on a commitment made to creditors a day earlier to allow privatisations that are already under way to proceed.   Continued...

A Greek national flag flutters as Greek Orthodox priests make their way on main Constitution (Syntagma) square in Athens February 25, 2015. Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday it had not been an easy decision for euro zone finance ministers to extend the Greek rescue plan by four months and much doubt remained about how credible Athens' latest reform commitments really were. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis  (GREECE - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS RELIGION)