Greece says it will default in June without aid from lenders

Wed May 20, 2015 3:09pm EDT
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By Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will not be able to make a payment to the International Monetary Fund due on June 5 unless foreign lenders provide more aid, a senior ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday, the latest warning from Athens that it is on the verge of default.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's leftist government says it hopes to reach a cash-for-reforms deal in days, although European Union and IMF lenders are more pessimistic and say talks are moving too slowly for that.

Payments to the IMF totaling about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) fall due next month, starting with a 300 million euro payment on June 5.

"Now is the moment that negotiations are coming to a head. Now is the moment of truth, on June 5," Nikos Filis, spokesman for the ruling Syriza party's lawmakers, told ANT1 television.

"If there is no deal by then that will address the current funding problem, they won't get any money," he said.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Britain's Channel 4 news: "If we can, on June 5, repay the IMF and pay pensions and salaries as well as the other obligations we have to our internal creditors, we shall. If not, we will have to prioritize pensioners and public sector workers."

Talks between Greece and its lenders have foundered on Athens' demand to roll back labor and pension reforms as well as the lower fiscal targets set under its bailout program.

Among concessions Athens is mulling is a tax on banking transactions to help raise revenue, though discussion of the levy is at an early stage, two sources close to the talks said.   Continued...

Greek pensioners take part in a demonstration for better healthcare as a European Union flag and a German national flag flutter on the Athens' municipality building, on the occasion of the announcement of a common Greek-German art festival, in Athens May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis