Greece continues "difficult" talks with troika auditors over spending cuts

Greece continues "difficult" talks with troika auditors over spending cuts
# 10 September 2012 22:15 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held on Monday an inconclusive meeting with auditors from international lenders over the new austerity package they request in exchange for fresh vital bailout funding to Athens in coming weeks, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Deliberations will continue, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters at the end of the talks at the Premier’s office.

"We presented a package of 11.5 billion euro (14.6 billion U.S. dollars) worth measures which is being assessed. The discussion is difficult, like the measures. We aim to convince our interlocutors that our arguments are right," Stournaras said, expressing confidence over the outcome.

Local media citing government sources said that the government seeks to seal the measures and secure the parliament’s approval by the end of September in time for the next European Union (EU) summit that could give the green light for the release of further rescue loans to debt-crippled Greece.

According to media reports, the Greek side presented to inspectors of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund creditors who support the Greek stability and reform program with multi billion euro aid since 2010, a framework of new spending cuts for 2013-2014.

But the foreign officials seem to have expressed reservations over the "vagueness" of some policies and the government’s ability to meet certain goals on schedule.

In order to secure the slashing of deficits on time, auditors are said to be pushing for more difficult measures, such as mass layoffs of civil servants and new cuts on wages and pensions.

The Greek government argues that too harsh austerity policies on top of waves of similar measures introduced since the start of the Greek debt crisis in late 2009, will deteriorate recession and derail efforts to restore growth.

The two centre-Left coalition partners of conservative Samaras in particular reject any further cutbacks on social welfare allowances and the income of the poorest Greeks.

The Greek prime minister is due to resume on Wednesday talks with his coalition partners on the final print of the measures, following a first inconclusive meeting on Sunday.

The coalition government needs the auditors’ and lenders’ approval to the 11.5-billion-euro package to receive more bailout aid and avoid a catastrophic disorderly default and a possible Greek exit from the eurozone.

On the other hand, the new administration which took over after the June general elections faces mounting pressure from labor unions which warn with a new endless round of anti-austerity protests and strikes.

As Samaras was holding talks with auditors on Monday, employees of the Greek Post Bank which is due to be privatized were staging a 24-hour strike, joined by teachers at public schools.

University professors, policemen, local administration employees and public hospital doctors plan more protests during this week.
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