Athens set to raid pension funds to make ends meet this month

 
Joseph Millis
Yanis Varoufakis: “We are confident that the repayments will be made in full” (Source: Getty)
Greece could raid the cash reserves of pension funds and public sector entities in a bid to cover its funding needs this month.

Athens – which has monthly needs of about €4.5bn (£3.27bn), including a wage and pension bill of €1.5bn – is running out of options to fund itself despite a deal with the Eurozone to extend its bailout by four months.

Faced with a steep fall in revenues, it is expected to run out of cash by the end of March, possibly sooner, though the government is trying to assure creditors it will not default.

“We are confident that the repayments will be made in full, particularly to the IMF, and there will be liquidity to get us through the end of the four-month period,” finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said during a late-night talk show on Greek TV on Monday. “March is sorted.”

And government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said: “We know that March is a difficult month. All our obligations will be repaid on time… in order not to have any prob­lems with our lenders, or at home.”

Meanwhile, the Syriza-led government has presented its first piece of legislation to parliament to offer free food and electricity to thousands of poverty-stricken Greeks.

“The deep recession due to austerity policies and the economic crisis in the past six years had a dramatic social impact,” said the bill, tabled late yesterday. “This draft law aims at tackling the humanitarian crisis through measures which ensure access to basic goods.”

During a cabinet meeting last week, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipas said that improving living conditions of those hurt by the crisis was the government’s “foremost duty”, but reiterated Athens was still committed to a balanced budget.

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