Greece says ready to make IMF payment on April 9

ATHENS (REUTERS) - Greece will pay a loan tranche due on April 9 to the International Monetary Fund on time, its deputy finance minister said on Friday, seeking to quell fears of default after a flurry of contradictory statements on the issue in recent days.

Greece is fast running out of cash and its euro zone and International Monetary Fund lenders have frozen bailout aid until the new leftist-led government reaches agreement on a package of reforms.

That prompted the interior minister to suggest this week that Athens would prioritise wages and pensions over the roughly 450 million euro (S$670 million) payment to the IMF, though the government denied that was its stance.

Euro zone officials then said Greece told them it will run out of money on April 9, which the finance ministry denied saying. "We strive to be able to pay our obligations on time, Dimitris Mardas told Greece's Skai TV. "We are ready to pay on April 9." Adding to the confusion, German magazine Der Spiegel quoted a finance ministry general secretary, Nikos Theocharakis, as saying Greece would probably not pay next week's IMF tranche, prompting another denial from the Greek finance ministry.

Theocharakis said Greece would be "close to the end" on April 9 and called the technical teams from its creditors"completely useless," according to an extract of the article due to be published on Saturday. "Mr. Theocharakis never characterised the technical teams of the institutions with the phrase attributed to him," the ministry said in a statement. "On the contrary ... he referred to them as saying they include 'top-notch people with impressive skills.'" Athens has not received bailout funds since August last year and has resorted to last-ditch measures such as borrowing from state entities via repo transactions to tide it through the cash crunch.

The government is hoping approval of its latest reforms package will unlock remaining aid of 7.2 billion euros under its EU/IMF bailout and lead to the return of about 1.9 billion euros in profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds.

Mardas said state revenue in March had topped targets without providing figures, adding that progress had been made in talks with the country's official international on its latest the reforms list.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Greece would receive fresh funds only once its creditors approve the comprehensive list of reforms Athens has presented.

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