Greece needs more time to implement the reforms and spending cuts requisitioned by the country's international creditors, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told German daily Bild, ahead of his crucial meeting with Eurozone leaders.
The troika consisting of the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank will return to Athens in September to assess if Greece has fulfilled the bailout requirements for receiving the next installment of 31.5 billion euros.
Greece has committed to save 11.5 billion euros in public spending cuts in two years from 2013 under the bailout deal.
Samaras told the daily that Greece needs room to breathe, to keep the economy afloat and to boost government's revenue. More time does not automatically mean more money, he added.
"Let me be very clear. We are not asking for additional money," Samaras said, adding that the government is looking to stimulate growth and reduce the financial gap. "We will stand by our commitments and fulfill all the requirements" of the bailout program, he said.
Samaras said the consequences of returning to drachma would be disastrous for his country. It would extend the recession by another five years and push up unemployment above 40 percent. Shunning the euro could stir social unrest and democracy will face unprecedented crisis, he warned.
He admitted that a lot has gone wrong in Greece and outside Greece. "Now we are getting down to all the necessary reforms."
Greece is making progress in privatizations and structural reforms. Tax revenues are increasing and the economy is improving, he added.
Samaras vowed that Greece would soon have a smaller, healthier and more efficient public sector. For every ten public sector employees going into retirement, the government will only hire one new staff, he said.
Samaras will meet Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday and is expected to seek a two-year extension for the country's fiscal adjustment program. He will also visit French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later this week.
Recently, one of the lawmakers in the Merkel government reportedly indicated that Greece may get some concessions on the bailout terms if it adheres to its reform pledges.
However, the German leadership has repeatedly insisted that any kind of leniency towards Greece both in terms of money and time is not possible.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org