LISBON Portugal will begin assessing in late January whether it needs a precautionary loan from creditors to ease its planned exit from an EU/IMF bailout in mid-2014, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said on Wednesday.
"The government does not stigmatize any of the possibilities," Passos Coelho told parliament. "We may negotiate a precautionary line to exit the programme or not."
"At the end of January we will start assessing the options with our (European) partners."
Portugal is in line to follow Ireland, which left its bailout behind last week, but many analysts doubt the Southern European country can manage a "clean" exit.
With two quarterly reviews of the 2011 rescue package still to go, however, Portugal has begun to win back investor confidence and is preparing to return to financing itself in markets next year.
The biggest threats to Lisbon's completion of the bailout are potential decisions by the country's constitutional court that could challenge austerity measures adopted under the 78 billion euro aid programme.
(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga; Editing by Catherine Evans)
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