BERLIN – Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras expects the troika of international lenders to deliver its report on Greece in mid-October and is optimistic Athens will get a new tranche of aid by the end of October, according to a German paper.
Athens held talks this week with inspectors from the "troika" of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund lenders to bridge differences over 2 billion euros of disputed austerity cuts.
But Stournaras was quoted by mass-selling German daily Bild as saying there was "no dispute with the troika".
"We are on a good path," he told Bild, for an article to be published in its Thursday edition. "I expect the troika report by mid-October. And I am very optimistic that Greece will get fresh money from the last package by the end of October."
The Greek finance minister said his country needed more time, not more money.
"That is precisely what I will explain to my finance minister colleagues at the weekend," he said, referring to a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers on October 8.
"And I will explain to them and hopefully convince them how it can work, so that we get more time and it does not cost more money," he said. "I will once again tell my EU colleagues quite clearly: We are not asking for more money."
The IMF wants Greece to cut its debt further to make up for going hugely off-track from the terms of its bailout, while Europe is resisting the option of a new debt restructuring and instead prefers to give Athens more time to get back on track, officials have told Reuters.
Another debt restructuring would in particular be a major blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is the biggest contributor to euro zone rescue funds, and diplomats say she would be eager to avoid such an event before a September 2013 German general election.
Greece unveiled an austerity budget this week that predicted a sixth year of recession in 2013 but failed to convince the troika, which has been skeptical of Athens' plans to cut health and defense spending.
Stournaras said it was time to combat the recession, as "this situation cannot continue like this forever".
(Reporting By Sarah Marsh; editing by Stephen Nisbet)