ATHENS (AFP) – Greece’s economy minister Georges Stathakis denied Saturday that the debt-laden state might run out of cash next month because of lower than expected tax receipts, saying a newspaper report to that effect was mistaken.
Stathakis, a member of the hard-left government that took office in Athens last month, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that “we will have liquidity problems in March if taxes don’t improve”.
The minister took to Twitter on Saturday to dispute the story, saying in a statement, “I didn’t say that there would be problems with liquidity in March. That’s not true.”
He said the legislative agenda that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would set out on Sunday evening “will include measures to increase tax receipts, thus ensuring the necessary revenue”.
“There will be no problem before the summer and an agreement is reached” with European partners on the reforms imposed as part of Greece’s EU-IMF bailout, Stathakis added.
In his interview with the WSJ, the minister reportedly said that tax revenues fell by about seven per cent, or about 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), between November and December, and likely fell a similar amount in January.
The new Athens government has rejected the final tranche of loans it is due before an international bailout programme expires at the end of this month, worth 7.2 billion euros, insisting it prefers to renegotiate the entire package.
It has asked for temporary funding, likely until the end of May, to cover its costs while the renegotiation takes place.
Athens wants 1.9 billion euros in profits made by the European Central Bank on Greek bonds, and permission to raise more money through short-term Treasury bills.
But this stance has put Greece back on a collision course with its EU partners, who want an agreement before the programme expires, or for Athens to request an extension.