January 13, 2015 / 7:00 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Greek finmin says bailout likely to be extended beyond end Feb.

(Adds comments by Hardouvelis on QE)

ATHENS, Jan 13 (Reuters) - A new Greek government that will take power after a snap election on Jan. 25 will have limited time to conclude a stalled bailout review and may have to return leftover bank bailout funds, the Greek finance minister said on Tuesday.

Greeks are voting in snap polls in less than two weeks with leftist party Syriza, which wants to renegotiate Greece’s international bailout and ask Europe to write off a big chunk of the country’s debt, consistently ahead in opinion polls.

“The government that will be elected will have the task of concluding the last review of the economic adjustment programme by the end of February 2015,” Gikas Hardouvelis told a news conference.

“The time is not long and an extension is likely to be required,” he said.

Hardouvelis - part of the government of centre-right Prime Minister Antonis Samaras - said if the bailout programme is not concluded within an “acceptable” time frame, Greece will need to return leftover bank rescue funds.

“Without the completion of the plan, Greece will be required to return 11.4 billion euros which is currently held by the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund,” he said.

He said that if that were to happen Greek debt would be reduced but the country would be deprived of European funds that could be of use as a financial cushion.

Greece must repay about 2 billion euros ($2.36 billion) in interest rates to private bondholders in February and about 1.6 billion euros for an IMF loan that matures in March.

Hardouvelis warned that without a timely conclusion to the bailout programme, Greek banks would lose access to cheap European Central Bank funding and it would be almost impossible for them to take part in any possible quantitative easing.

The ECB will weigh up whether to start printing money to buy large amounts of sovereign bonds at a meeting on Jan. 22. ($1 = 0.8493 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Renee Maltezou; Editing by Costas Pitas and Dominic Evans)

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