Europe Economy

Greece Faces 'Race Against Time': FinMin

Anjuli Davies, Special to

The world may be focused on the debt crisis that has submerged the emirate of Dubai, but in Europe investors are also watching the situation unfolding in Greece and whether it could be the next shoe to drop.

“It’s a race against time” Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on CNBC.

"The reality is we will need some time to put forward the kind of reforms that are going to pay off,” Papaconstantinou said.

Greece Needs Time to Tackle Reforms: FinMin

Greece's socialist government was elected at the beginning of October when a snap election was called after dissatisfaction with the way the incumbent government had handled the faltering economy.

But concerns are mounting about the credibility of Greece's sovereign credit amid threats of ratings downgrades and a spiraling budget deficit.

Still, the finance minister remained upbeat.

"We’ve seen very negative reports from media institutions but clearly they are going beyond the true picture," he said. "This is not about default. Our country is central and has just elected a new government that has a solid footing and this is the balanced picture."

There are also concerns that once the European Central Bank turns off its massive liquidity tap, Greek banks will be left in the lurch.

"Greek banks have been one of the least exposed to toxic assets," Papaconstantinou said. "Yes they have used the ECB facility but they are perfectly able to survive as the ECB begins turning the tap off … We are already looking for better solutions to raise funds amongst other things and raise government bonds."

Speculation remains, though, about what would happen if a euro-zone economy defaults on its debt.

"Strictly speaking no such mechanism exists but we’re not worried about defaulting," he said. "Yes, the cost of borrowing is becoming such that it staves off any available resources for other policies and this is why we are keen to send the right signals to markets."