LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal could go without the final payment of its bailout, the country’s finance minister said on Tuesday, after a constitutional court ruling rejecting a series of austerity measures put the last tranche of the aid package at risk.
“We can and may ponder that possibility, but there are no decisions taken about this yet,” Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque told journalists when asked if Portugal could do without the last tranche, if necessary.
The court on May 30 rejected a series of austerity measures worth around 700 million euros that were agreed with the country’s creditors before its bailout formally expired in May.
The government is now looking for alternative fiscal measures to ensure the country can still meet its budget deficit goals for this year and next.
“We are still considering what to do,” the minister said in comments aired on television from Brussels.
The last payment from the European Union and IMF is worth 2.6 billion euros.
“The last cheque depends on us finding alternative measures, but as I say, no decisions have yet been taken about this,” she said.
Portugal needs to reduce its budget deficit to 4 percent of GDP this year and further to 2.5 percent in 2015 under European Union agreements.
“We are not negotiating anything,” the minister said. “We are considering what can be done in terms of the (bailout) program. But, as we have said, we still don’t know the dimension of the problem in order to find a solution.”
The government has asked the court for clarification on the ruling, which rejected plans to cut civil servant wages - a key element of the bailout.
Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga; Writing by Axel Bugge; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall