ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece can go without borrowing until the end of April and has not yet decided when it will tap capital markets for funds to refinance maturing debt, the country's deputy finance minister said on Sunday.
Greece has already borrowed more than 15 billion euros ($20.28 billion) this year via T-bills, syndicated bond issues and a private placement out of an estimated total need of 53.2 billion euros for 2010. It is pressing its European partners for a concrete standby package to help bring its borrowing costs down.
Aiming for a 4.0 percentage point fiscal adjustment to shrink its budget gap to 8.7 percent of GDP this year, Greece has said it may have to turn to the IMF if a European solution is not found to help manage its debt mountain.
"We have the ability ... to follow our course until about the end of April without going to the markets," Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sachinidis told Mega TV in an interview. "We have not taken any decision as to when we will go out to markets to borrow."
Greece needs to raise some 16 billion euros in debt by the end of May, the head of the country's PDMA debt agency said in an interview published on Friday.
Petros Christodoulou told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily that 23 billion euros of Greek debt fell due in the period April 19 to May 23, but that the Greek government had a positive cash balance of around 7 billion euros at present.
Sachinidis said Greece was not asking its euro zone partners for money but for the right message to markets so that its borrowing costs come down. The country, with a debt-to-GDP ratio seen reaching 120.4 percent this year, is paying almost twice as much as Germany to refinance maturing debt.
"What we want to see is a determination from the part of the euro zone to send the proper message to markets so that the next time Greece goes out to borrow in international markets it will face interest rates that price the Hellenic Republic in a better way," the minister said.
He said a standby support mechanism could be a pool of funds set aside by other euro zone countries which can borrow at much lower rates. Greece could turn to this pool if markets do not lower the rates at which they lend money to the country.
"What is lacking right now is not the mechanism to help Greece but the political will," the minister said.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, editing by Matthew Lewis)