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Portugal finance minister doesn't exclude Eurogroup presidency

Portugal Finance Minister Mario Centeno has not excluded the possibility of becoming the next president of the Eurogroup following media reports that he could replace the current Dutch leadership.

Speaking exclusively to CNBC, Centeno said he has unfinished business to do in Lisbon but "not necessarily" of his own.

When asked if he prefers Brussels cuisine to Portugal's, Centeno said: "The cuisine in Lisbon is much better, but I won't be losing that anyway."

The group that includes the 19 finance ministers of the euro area is currently lead by the Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem who needs to be replaced after losing a general election. Until now, every president of the so-called Eurogroup has been a sitting finance minister.

This would mean that if Centeno was to take on the position, he would still keep his role as Portugal's finance minister and therefore enjoy Lisbon's cuisine. However, Centeno stressed that it is up to the 19 euro countries to decide who is going to replace Dijsselbloem.

"It's a decision to be taken by the 19 members of the Eurogroup," he said.

Recapitalization of Portugal's largest bank

After pumping billions of euros into its largest troubled bank, Centeno said the recapitalization would not have an impact on the economy.

Centeno told CNBC the $4 billion spent propping up Caixa Geral de Depositos wasn't considered state aid, under European competition rules, and as a result, it won't affect this year's public deficit.

"The capitalization of Caixa was based on a decision by the European commission of non-state aid. This means that the capitalization of Caixa was made under private investment principles and market conditions…it clearly defined how it has to be considered in terms of national accounts," he said. "We expect no impact for that on the deficit," Centeno stated.

Portugal is currently estimating a 1.5 percent gross domestic product for this year, but this figure doesn't include the recapitalization of the bank.

The European Commission announced Monday that Portugal is no longer in breach of its budget rules, six years after concluding a bailout program.

Brussels said that the Portuguese economy has improved over the last few years, having brought down its deficit to 2 percent of GDP in 2016 - well below the EU's 3 percent threshold.

Centeno told CNBC that "this is a signal that we really are in a different path." Portugal has undergone massive austerity measures in exchange for financial support between 2011 and 2014.

While the big three credit agencies rate Portugal's debt at junk status, Centeno believes the commission's decision Monday will help him in discussions with these agencies.

"I think we have to do a lot more work with the rating agencies," Centeno said.

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