ATHENS - Greece will seek about 10 billion euros (S$15.34 billion) in short-term financing as it tries to stave off a funding crunch while buying time to push its creditors to ease austerity demands.
Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will present a proposal at a Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels that will ask for an 8 billion-euro increase in the stock of Treasury Bills the country is allowed, said a government official who asked not to be named as the negotiations are confidential. It will also seek the disbursement of 1.9 billion euros of profits that euro area central banks made on their Greek bonds holdings.
The standoff between Greece and its creditors over the conditions attached to its 240 billion-euro lifeline risks leaving Europe's most-indebted state without any funding as of the end of this month, when its current bailout expires. European leaders pushed back on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's efforts to get out of austerity imposed by the previous government as a condition for Greece's bailout, setting the stage for a clash.
"In the short term, we need to put together what some may call an extension or the Greeks might want to call a bridge," French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Monday at a gathering of G-20 finance ministers in Istanbul. "Then we'll have to find medium-term solutions going forward, looking ahead to June."
Greece's new anti-bailout government, led by Tsipras, laid out a lengthy list of policy actions, including a gradual increase in the minimum wage, and a boost to the threshold of tax-exempt income. The plan will be put to a confidence vote in Greece's parliament on Tuesday. The measures would breach the terms of the country's emergency loans agreement with the euro area and the International Monetary Fund.
Tsipras has said they are necessary to alleviate the "humanitarian crisis" in Greece, after five years of belt tightening that left more than a quarter of the workforce without a job. Supporters of his defiant stance are organizing a rally Tuesday evening in Athens, the second in less than a week. A Feb. 6 poll for Skai Television showed that 72 per cent of those surveyed support the government's negotiating tactics.
Investors are less enthusiastic. Greek government bonds fell for a fourth day on Monday (Feb 9), with yields on three-year notes jumping 308 basis points to 21.08 per cent, while bank stocks fell 12.2 per cent in the Athens Stock Exchange.
German political leaders have said they will not extend more assistance to Greece without strings attached.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Washington on Monday that the existing aid programs are the basis for Greek talks, adding that she will wait to hear what Greece has to say.
"There is no way out" for Greece from its bailout obligations, Michael Fuchs, a deputy caucus chairman for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in parliament, told Bloomberg Television in an interview. "We have a full disagreement at the moment, because what they want to do has nothing to do with all the agreements which have been made."
Behind the public rhetoric, the Greek government has shifted to a more cooperative stance in recent conversations with the troika of the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, according to an official representing the creditors.
Two other troika officials said Greece may be given more time to present its complete proposals for a permanent arrangement if Tsipras accepts he needs a new program, which will include monitoring, and commits not to reverse the most important overhauls of the bailout agreement.
The Greek government's proposal for a bridge deal is aimed at allowing the country to break the impasse and negotiate a more permanent arrangement with its creditors by this summer.
Greece is pushing for a successor program to its current bailout, which will be focused on structural economic overhauls rather than fiscal measures.
The government said that reforms will be carried out in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, while it will not allow the budget to be derailed.
Varoufakis said Greece's proposal in the meeting of euro area finance ministers on Wednesday will include narrowing the primary budget surplus targets to 1.5 per cent of its gross domestic product from 4.5 per cent. The target for primary budget surplus doesn't include debt servicing.
Last week, he told investors in London that the debt restructuring Athens is requesting will not include a writedown on the nominal value of the country's debt.
Greece is also open to discussing a precautionary credit line backed by euro area funds, after the deal on the bridge program has been sealed, the Greek government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said on Monday.
The proposal came even as the Greek crisis topped the list of concerns as finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 leading industrial and emerging economies began meeting in Istanbul.
"There is going to be a tremendous effort to make sure that Greece does not leave the currency union," Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver said in an interview. "Compromise is clearly going to be needed but the situation is very serious."