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BRUSSELS Euro zone finance ministers and officials meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss the situation in Greece, but are not expected to authorize more money for Athens because there is still no agreement on how to make its debts sustainable. The Eurogroup meeting is, however, expected to give Greece two more years to meet its goals in talks about unfreezing lending. Following are comments ahead of the talks: IRISH FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL NOONAN ON SITUATION IN GREECE: “Greece has made steady progress this week – two very important pieces of legislation have gone through. A lot of the earlier […]

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BERLIN German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble ruled out public investors accepting a debt restructuring, or “haircut”, on their Greek debt holding but said a debt repurchasing program could be considered. “(A haircut) is a discussion that has little to do with the reality in the member states of the euro zone,” Schaeuble said in an interview to be aired on Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday. Schaeuble added he would not speculate on a debt repurchase program until the troika of the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund had presented their final report on Greece’s progress. “That is a […]

CALGARY Canada still welcomes foreign direct investment despite the federal government’s refusal late last week to approve the C$ 5.17 billion ($ 5.17 billion) acquisition of Progress Energy Resources Corp by Malaysian state oil company Petronas [PETR.UL}, the country’s finance minister said on Sunday. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told CTV’s “Question Period” program proposed acquisitions needed to be correct and that Canada’s industry minister can impose conditions on any transactions. However, he said in the transcript of the interview that Industry Minister Christian Paradis and the companies were continuing discussions on satisfying the government’s concerns with the deal. ($ 1 […]

BERLIN Germany’s Finance Ministry is considering a debt buy-back as a possible way of reducing Greece’s huge debt pile which threatens to rise well above a target level of 120 percent of GDP by 2020, according to German news magazine Spiegel. The Greek government could borrow money from the euro zone’s permanent bailout fund and use this to buy back its own debt, which at present trades at around 25 percent of its face value. Buying just 10 million euros worth of Greek bonds could reduce the debt mountain by 40 million, Spiegel said. Talks would have to take place […]

TOKYO World finance leaders on Saturday endorsed a checklist of policy reforms aimed at pressuring Europe and the United States to tackle debt troubles that threaten to choke off global growth. To hold each others’ feet to the fire, the nations — meeting under the aegis of the International Monetary Fund — agreed to review progress in six months. Their 10-page agenda, however, largely summarized previously planned steps, such as deploying a new European Central Bank bond-buying program and avoiding the U.S. “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax hikes set to take hold early next year. The checklist and […]

TOKYO Iran’s finance minister said on Friday that despite sanctions imposed on the country by Western nations, Iran’s foreign exchange reserves are in a “good position”. Shamseddin Hosseini, Iran’s minister of economic affairs and finance, told reporters the government was taking steps to curb speculative demand and other measures to combat a sharp decline in Iran’s rial. Hosseini was in Tokyo to attend meetings of the International Monetary Fund. (Reporting by Stanley White; Writing by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

LUXEMBOURG International lenders are considering giving Greece two more years to reach its budget deficit reduction targets, and the extra time could be financed without more money from the euro zone, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said. “It is now on the table by all members of the troika,” Stournaras told reporters of the 2-year extension. “All the exercises that we are doing now they assume that the program will last up to 2016, that … 4.5 percent of GDP (for the budget deficit) will be achieved in 2016 rather than in 2014,” he said . “The implicit assumption is […]

ATHENS Greece and the troika of international lenders will continue talks on austerity measures that are part of the country’s bailout for two weeks, a senior Greek Finance Ministry official said on Saturday. Greece was aiming to get euro zone finance ministers to state at a meeting on Monday that the talks on the package of almost 12 billion euros were making good progress, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “This positive statement will be the signal for talks to continue … next week and the week after that,” he added. The official was speaking after the conclusion […]

LISBON Portugal’s Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar will hold a press conference on Wednesday on the country’s bailout plan, when he is expected to detail fresh austerity measures. The center-right government has been looking for alternative ways to meet budget goals under the 78-billion-euro bailout since it was forced to back down on a plan to hike social security taxes, which sparked a backlash among many Portuguese. The finance ministry said in a statement that Gaspar will hold the press conference at 1500 GMT. The previously proposed hike in social security taxes prompted the largest protests in Portugal since the country […]

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