Greece could extend IMF loans

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greece is discussing prolonging the repayment of a €110bn (£96bn) EU/IMF bailout deal, its Finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, said yesterday.

"It is an ongoing discussion, there is no decision but this is completely different from the issue of restructuring of the Greek debt," Mr Papaconstantinou told Greece's Skai television. The International Monetary Fund said on Sunday that bailout loans to Greece could be stretched out or replaced if refinancing worries lingered in markets, but it currently has no concrete plans to do so.

"This discussion has started because everybody sees that for two specific years – 2014 and 2015 – the state goes suddenly from paying off €40 to €50bn a year to €70bn," Mr Papaconstantinou said, adding that Greece had not officially asked for such an extension.

Mr Papaconstantinou also said this year's budget deficit would reach about 8 per cent of GDP from about 14 per cent last year.