ATHENS, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Greece could seek an extension of its debt to European Central Bank (ECB) amongst other options, to bridge any financing gaps in coming years, if the austerity and reform drive underway will not meet all goals within current time tables, the Greek Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.
"The possibility of a rollover could be examined to cover the budget gap given that ECB holds some 28 billion euros in Greek bonds maturing in 2013-2016," Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras noted in a written statement released by his office, responding to a question raised by a Greek deputy.
He added that in case of missed targets in fiscal adjustment or the privatization program under bailout deals with international lenders since 2010, Greece could also turn to other solutions, such as the issuance of further short-term debt.
Debt-laden Greece's stability and reform plan which is supported by multi-billion euro loans from European counterparts and International Monetary Fund, aims to avoid a chaotic Greek bankruptcy and potential exit from the euro zone.
But, due to shortfalls in raising revenues, implementing structural reforms and deep recession, despite a "haircut" on part of the Greek debt held by private investors this year, the program remains off track.
Athens seeks a two-year extension of the program to 2016 which could cost up to an additional 15 billion euros, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras estimated, according to local media reports.
Such a decision could be made at the EU summit in late October. In the meantime Greece needs to finalize a supplementary 11.5 billion euro austerity package for 2013-2014 to unlock further rescue loans in coming months.
Amidst recent reports in particular in German media of a Greek budget deficit "twice wider" than Athens' estimates, the Greek Finance Ministry strongly rejected such scenarios.
Stournaras stressed that the Greek budget deficit, according to calculations with auditors of lenders, will stand at 13.5 billion euros for 2013-2014 and it will be covered by 11.5 billion euros of spending cuts and 2 billion euros of revenues, as planned. (1 euro= 1.29 U.S. dollars)