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Portugal would save €14.9bn (9 per cent of GNP) if it were offered the same conditions European institutions have offered Greece, according to a study by BPI bank. That would mean a €1.5bn reduction in public finance cuts in 2014, allowing for more gradual spending cutbacks – a total of €4bn has to be slashed from public accounts by March.

In January, the Portuguese government asked European creditors to extend the timescale for repayment from 15 years to 30 years. That alone – no haircut included – could mean savings of between €1.2bn to €2.8bn. Interest rates could also be reviewed. Portugal pays the European Commission and the European Central Bank slightly above 3 per cent interest, while the Troika borrows from the European Financial Stability Facility at less than 2 per cent.

Cutting that rate, as was done with Greece, would earn Lisbon €12bn. Europe’s answer to the Portuguese requests is likely to be given at the Eurogroup meeting on March 4.