"There will have to be another programme in Greece," said Mr Schaeuble, addressing a campaign audience in northern Germany. However he maintained that, despite this, there would be no further debt haircut for Athens. Just hours before Mr Schaeuble spoke, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted in a regional newspaper dismissing questions about further aid for Greece, saying there was no point in discussing the matter until its second package expires at the end of next year. However, economists have long predicted a third rescue package for Greece, which is struggling to control its mounting debt burden as the economy shrinks under tough austerity measures. Opposition leaders, who have relentlessly accused the government of hiding the truth about Greece, pounced on the finance minister's comments. Peer Steinbrueck, leader of Germany's Social Democrat Party, declared it was "time that Frau Merkel tells people the truth". Juergen Tritten, head of the country's Green party, also seized the opportunity to hit out at the Chancellor.While a third bail-out for Greece, paid for by eurozone taxpayers, will anger German voters, the sums involved are set to be much lower than the previous two rescue packages, which run to €210bn (£179bn).
Any new aid money would be funnelled towards an expected shortfall in Greece's public finances in the next two years, according to a Greek finance ministry official. Athens is also looking at using leftover funds from a bank bail-out programme to help plug the funding gap. In Frankfurt, the European Central Bank said Joerg Asmussen, one of its most senior officials, would visit Greece on Wednesday to discuss progress on reforms needed to ensure more bailout money.