BERLIN (MNI) – Greece’s budget shortfall amounts to around E20
billion, almost double the previous estimate, German weekly Der Spiegel
reported over the weekend, citing preliminary findings of inspectors
from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International
Monetary Fund, known as the “Troika.”

And Greece can only receive the next tranche of financial aid from
its Eurozone peers and the IMF if it closes that budget gap, Der Spiegel
said.

However, a Greek Finance Ministry official in Athens poured cold
water on the Spiegel report. “The fiscal deficit of Greece is at the
moment E13.5 billion, of which, after an agreement with the Troika,
E11.5 billion will come from spending cuts and E2 billion from new
revenues,” the official said.

Der Spiegel also reported that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras
has repeatedly asked Greece’s official creditors to take a haircut on
their claims against the country.

On a topic of broader concern in Europe, Der Spiegel said that
Eurozone countries plan to allow the future permanent bailout fund, the
European Stability Mechanism (ESM), to leverage its capital in the same
way as the current temporary rescue fund, the European Financial
Stability Facility (EFSF).

In that way, the capacity of the ESM could potentially be leveraged
from the current E500 billion to above E2 trillion, the magazine
reported. Germany is supporting the move. Finland has blocked its swift
adoption, however, because it wants its national parliament to have a
chance to consider the matter, Der Spiegel wrote.

–Berlin bureau: +49-30-22 62 05 80; email: twidder@mni-news.com

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