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Greek government bonds will only be included in the European Central Bank’s major stimulus measures after the central bank has deemed the country’s debt to be sustainable, Mario Draghi has said.
Laying out the hurdles to Greece’s inclusion into ECB quantitative easing, Mr Draghi told MEPs in Brussels that central bank policymakers would need to make their own “independent” assessment of the country’s debt dynamics, amid warnings from the International Monetary Fund that Greek debt was on an “explosive” path.
Questions hang over the fate of Greece’s current three-year bailout programme, with the IMF due to make a major decision on its participation in the rescue later this month. Greece’s 10-year bond yields had surged to a two-month high on the jitters.
Greece’s creditors in Brussels and the IMF have been at loggerheads over the level of the debt restructuring and budget surplus targets baked into its €86bn bailout, while Athens has long called on the ECB to ease its debt pressures by snapping up the country’s bonds under its asset purchase programme which has been running since March 2015.
Mr Draghi however said the move would only be considered once EU and IMF creditors had agreed on what medium term debt relief measures would be granted to the country after 2018 and after finance ministers sign off on the country’s second bailout review.
It is only then “the governing council in full independence will express its own assessment of debt sustainability based only on its own risk management considerations”.
Greece’s current debt to GDP pile stands at 180 per cent of GDP but could swell to over 200 after 2022 without a major debt restructuring, according to the IMF.
Eurozone finance ministers will meet with the IMF on February 20 to make a decision on whether or not to grant a second bailout review and release fresh funds to the government to meet around €7bn in summer debt repayments.