ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece would need an extra 13-15 billion euros to finance a two-year extension to its bailout but is confident of bridging that gap without burdening European taxpayers, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Reuters on Tuesday.
Greece’s new conservative-led government wants its lenders to grant it two more years to push through austerity cuts so that its recession-hit economy has time to recover, but had so far not specified the price tag for such an extension.
“We estimate the funding gap that would be created if we get the two-year extension at 13-15 billion euros,” Stournaras said.
Greek officials have previously said such a gap could be covered through short-term debt or by seeking lower interest rates, or via a rollover of debt held by the ECB - avoiding forcing euro zone governments to stump up more money for Greece.
Stournaras also confirmed that the country’s fiscal shortfall regarding its 2013 and 2014 targets remained at 13.5 billion euros - the value of budget measures Athens has been discussing with its lenders from the European Union and International Monetary Fund for weeks.
Earlier, a deputy finance minister said Greece may seek a rollover of its ECB-held bonds or try to raise additional short-term debt to plug any potential financing gaps in the coming years.
If Greece’s budget gap or privatisation revenues fall short of the targets set out in its second bailout, the country might face a financing gap, deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras said in a written response to a lawmaker dated September 19. He did not specify how big that gap might be.
“With a view to covering the financing gap, and given that the eurosystem is holding 28 billion euros of Greek bonds maturing in 2013-2016, the possibility of rolling over the maturities will be examined,” Staikouras said.
The ECB has so far refused to face any losses on the bonds it has purchased over past years to prop up Greek debt.
Staikouras also said that Greece might have to raise more money from debt markets in 2015 and 2016 than the 10.6 billion euros foreseen in its bailout agreement earlier this year.
EU officials have speculated Greece might need a second debt restructuring to get its finances back on track.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Harry Papachristou, writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by John Stonestreet