Greece Scrambles to Find Cash Ahead of $2 Billion Payment Deadline

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Greece will begin debating measures to boost liquidity as the cash-starved country braces for more than 2 billion euros ($2.12 billion) in debt payments Friday.

Unable to access bailout funding and locked out of capital markets, the government will outline emergency plans to parliament later Tuesday that includes incentives for tax delinquents to pay up before March 27, when Greece needs money for monthly salaries and pensions.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government is burning through cash while trying to get creditors -- euro area member states, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- to release more money from a 240 billion-euro bailout program. Euro-area finance ministry officials will hold a call Tuesday to discuss Greece’s deteriorating finances, according to two European officials who asked not to be identified because the talk hasn’t been publicized.

“As days go by, room for maneuver becomes ever smaller,” said Theodore Pelagidis, an Athens-based senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The impression given is that there’s no plan A or plan B. There’s nothing.”

The government’s revenue-boosting plan also requires pension funds and public entities to invest reserves held at the Bank of Greece in government securities and repurchase agreements, and transfers 556 million euros from the country’s bank recapitalization fund to the state. A vote on the measures is scheduled for Wednesday.

Stocks Rebound

Greek stocks rebounded Tuesday, ending four days of declines, with the benchmark Athens Stock Exchange gaining 1.9 percent as of 3:16 p.m. local time. Yields on three-year bonds rose 11 basis points to 20.29 percent.

Tsipras has asked to meet with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and other leaders at an EU summit starting Thursday to discuss Greece’s finances.

European governments have said they won’t disburse any more emergency loans unless the government in Athens implements a set of economic overhauls agreed last month, including pension and sales tax reform. Tsipras has pledged to meet the country’s obligations while also ending austerity measures.

“None of my colleagues, or anyone in the international institutions, can tell me how this is supposed to work,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Berlin Monday. Greek leaders are “lying to the population,” he said.

Government Auction

The government plans to auction 1 billion euros of treasury bills Wednesday. As much as 60 percent of the auctioned amount can be tapped on top of that in non-competitive and second-day bids. The money will be used to roll over 1.6 billion euros of short-term notes due Friday.

The same day, Europe’s most indebted state is scheduled to repay about 350 million euros to the IMF, while interest due on four bonds held by the ECB total about 110 million euros.

Payments on a swap originally arranged by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2001 are also due March 20, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified publicly. The derivative, now held by the National Bank of Greece, masked the country’s growing debt, helping it meet European Union rules for entering the euro area.

Spokesmen for the National Bank of Greece and Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the amount due for the swap, and the government didn’t respond to calls and text messages seeking comment.

Missing Targets

The interest payment adds to the country’s funding woes as the government misses budget targets and the ECB refuses to allow Greek banks to keep the country afloat with additional short-term debt. Greece’s 2014 primary budget surplus was just 0.3 percent of gross domestic product, missing a 1.5 percent goal, according to finance ministry data released Monday.

“Greece’s situation is deteriorating rapidly” Daniele Antonucci, a Morgan Stanley economist, wrote in a joint note with colleagues Tuesday. “The economy is now shrinking, tax revenues are falling short of targets, bank deposits are leaving the system and political volatility seems on the rise.”

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said there are limits to the help that euro member countries can give Greece.

“Our people are also subject to austerity measures,” Cerar said in an interview in his office in Ljubljana, the capital of the former Yugoslav Republic. “For this reason we can’t go too far on the issue of solidarity, because it would be a bad signal to our citizens, to our taxpayers.”

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