Finance Minister says Greece almost concluded deal to write off half private debt

1. Wide of the press room ahead of news conference
2. Greek Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos arriving at the press room for a joint news conference
3. SOUNDBITE: (Greek) Evangelos Venizelos, Greek Finance Minister:
“On Monday, 6 of February, there will be another eurogroup meeting which will discuss a range of issues, and I hope it will take the necessary decisions. The question is that we do our job, to complete the negotiations with the troika by the end of this week, for the new program. Without the new program, the necessary funding will not be there, and the PSI (Private Sector Involvement) process cannot be completed. On the PSI – as you know and as the private sector has also expressed through the IIF (Institute of International Finance)- we are one step away, I would say a step that is a formality, from the completion of the deal.”
4. Close up of journalist typing during the news conference
5. Mid of Loverdos and Venizelos at the podiums
6. Wide of the news room
7. SOUNDBITE: (Greek) Evangelos Venizelos, Greek Finance Minister:
“If (Greek health and pension) funds do not take part in the PSI, the country will be destroyed fiscally and financially, it will go bankrupt. And when a country goes bankrupt there is no sufficient state budget to fund on a yearly basis the (health and pension) funds, to cover their deficit, to secure the pensions; not only the main pensions but also the auxiliary ones and other provided services.”
8. Mid of Loverdos and Venizelos at the podiums
8. SOUNDBITE: (Greek) Andreas Loverdos, Greek Health Minister:
“We have a limited state budget, and we agreed with the European Commission and the rest (of the institutions involved) that the amount that the Greek Republic can spend on medicines is 2.88 (b) billion Euros (3.79 billion US dollars).”
9. Wide of the news conference
10. Venizelos leaving the news conference
STORYLINE:
Greece has all but concluded a crucial deal to write off half its privately held debt and is now working on new austerity measures needed to secure continued bailout loans, Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday in Athens in a joint news conference with Greek Health Minister Andreas Loverdos.
“We are one step – I would say it is a formality from the completion of the deal,” Venizelos told a news conference.
Under the deal, private creditors would swap their Greek bonds for new ones with 50 per cent cut in their face value, a longer repayment period, which could be up to 30 years, and low interest rate, that is still being negotiated.
That is likely to leave investors participating in the deal facing an overall loss on their bond holdings of about 70 percent, according to people close to the talks.
Greece needs the deal to lower its debt – which is simply too big for it to tackle alone – by some 100 (b) billion euros (130 billion US dollars) and therefore avoid a default that would spell disaster for the country and destabilise European and global markets.
The deal is vital for Greece to avoid bankruptcy, as the country faces a 14.5 (b) billion euros (19 billion US dollars) bond repayment on March 20 with insufficient funds to cover the massive payout.
Venizelos said that one of the conditions for this bond swap deal to go ahead is a commitment by Greece’s bailout partners to keep giving it rescue loans.
To do that, Greece is now focusing on completing negotiations by the end of the week with its European partners and the International Monetary Fund on a new program of cutbacks – without which Greece’s bailout lifeline will be cut.

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