February 17, 2014 / 11:47 AM / 6 years ago

Greece sticks to plan for bond sale in second half of 2014: government official

Youths sit on a bench in front of a closed shop at a commercial street of Athens December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece is sticking to plans to tap bond markets in the second half of the year, a senior government official told reporters on Monday, playing down speculation it may try to sell debt well before then.

Athens was shut out of bond markets almost four years ago when its debt crisis erupted and it now survives on bailout aid from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund.

Greek media reports said earlier this month that the government was considering tapping bond markets as early as March, before local and EU government elections in May. But the official said there had been no change in Greek plans.

“Our plan is to return to the markets in the second half of the year,” the official told reporters.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has said Athens was planning a small bond issue in the second half of this year, provided data due in April confirms the government posted a primary budget surplus in 2013 and that the depressed economy has returned to growth.

Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by John Stonestreet

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