Greece can tap markets in 2016 if reforms on track -EU aide

ATHENS Greece, which received a third international bailout this year, can begin to return to bond markets in 2016 if its reform program stays on course, a senior EU finance official was quoted on Saturday as saying.

The government is dependent on the euro zone’s rescue fund for most of its borrowing despite the fact that it continues to issue a limited amount of brief-term treasury bills.

“If the system is on track, as it is right now, and stays that way all of 2016, then I reckon access to markets is a feasible target and will be a logical consequence,” Thomas Wieser, chairman of the Eurogroup Operating Group, told Greek newspaper Realnews.

The government has begun to implement a difficult reform plan following a bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($ 93.61 billion) agreed in August but nonetheless faces politically sensitive overhauls of the pension and tax system and state administration.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told Reuters in an interview this week he saw a 50-50 likelihood of tapping capital markets prior to the end of subsequent year.

(Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos Editing by Paul Taylor)