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Greek leaders strike 'cuts for cash' deal


Greece

Greek leaders strike 'cuts for cash' deal

Greece’s political leaders struck a deal on Wednesday to slash public spending in return for more bailout cash.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras wants fresh cuts to tap more funds from a 130-billion-euro rescue package.

He rejected calls from junior coalition partners to ask Greece’s international lenders for more time to get its finances in order.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said Samaras “saw the 11.5 billion euros of austerity measures as a necessary condition to keep the country in the eurozone and to be able to negotiate further” with its creditors.

Socialist chief and former finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos said he dropped his renegotiation demands to keep the coalition entact.

“We are not the ones to lead the country to elections,” he said.

His Democratic Left counterpart, Fotis Kouvelis, said the poor would be protected from these latest cuts.

“In every case there was a common agreement that there will be little burden on the socially weaker classes. We will not proceed with measures that will burden society,” he said after talks at the prime minister’s office.

The so-called troika, the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank, want Greece to reduce its budget deficit to below three percent of GDP by the end of 2014. It stood at 9.2 percent last year.

Union leaders fear the further wage, benefit and pension cuts and tax hikes will spark further social unrest and only mire the country in a deeper economic slump.

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