"The PPC could be a fully healthy enterprise given the right strategy in selling lignite units and if there was support similar to the initiatives undertaken by the government for the repayment of arrears," Mihalis Varriopoulos, secretary-general of Environment and Energy ministry said on Tuesday.

Addressing a conference on "Saving energy-investing on European vision", Verriopoulos noted that PPC's market share "cannot fall so fast". An agreement with the country's creditors envisages that PPC will have to cut its market share to 50 pct by 2020.

Kostas Skrekas, a New Democracy deputy, addressing the conference said that "PPC will be on the verge of total collapse in 2019, and noted that the enterprise is reporting operating losses, its share price has collapsed, consumers' arrears are expected to exceed 3.0 billion euros, while turnover is expected to fall by 20 pct by 2019 and PPC will face the maturity of bonds worth 1.9 billion in the same year.

"The PPC is too 'hard' to die, it will not collapse in 2019," George Andriotis, vice-chairman of PPC said. "We do not fear competition on equal terms, but the problem is that they force us to sell large energy packets below cost to private suppliers to compete us," Andriotis said.

Verriopoulos said the government will soon launch a "Saving at Home" programme, to be followed by an energy-saving programme for small- and medium-sized enterprises.