ATHENS – Running out of cash, locked out of markets and stuck in stalled talks with international lenders, Greece’s Radical Left SYRIZA-led government can’t meet a critical June 5 payment and faces default without aid or a deal.
That stark assessment came from Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis to the Mega TV show even as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ financial team has gotten nowhere with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that is holding back a desperately-needed 7.2-billion euro ($8 billion) installment.
The lenders won’t release the money because Tsipras is refusing, so far, to buckle on most of hsi key campaign pledges to reverse austerity imposed by previous governments on the troika’s orders.
Last month the government was able to pay pensions and salaries only because it ordered cities and towns and state enterprises to turn over all their spare cash, a move it can’t make again. With few options, Tsipiras has lost bargaining chips as the troika squeezes him.
Tsipras on Feb. 20 accepted a four-month bailout extension he said he didn’t want, buying time for his government which has failed since then to come up with a credible list of reforms needed for money to be released and Greece saved from economic disaster.
“The four installments for the IMF in June are 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,” Voutsis said.
Asked what would happen – default or not – if Greece doesn’t make the payment, he said: “We are not seeking this, we don’t want it, it is not our strategy. Things have matured for a deal of logic.”
“We are discussing, based on our contained optimism, that there will be a strong agreement (with lenders) so that the country will be able to breathe. This is the bet,” Voutsis said.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis earlier warned that if comes to that, the government will pay workers and pensioners and stiff the IMF.