New Greek austerity deal close

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New Greek austerity deal close

New Greek austerity deal close
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Greece’s political leaders say they have broadly agreed the latest austerity package demanded by the EU and the International Monetary Fund in return for bailout money, but with “minor, technical” details still to be worked out.

But some top members of the coalition government said they could not agree to cuts that will mean more pain for low-wage earners and pensioners.

Greece’s finance minister Yannis Stournaras said: “The package will be sealed next week and presented to the troika.”

But leftist and Socialist allies – both under pressure from voters to oppose a new round of austerity – were more cautious on the work left to finalise the package.

Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the moderate Democratic Left party that campaigned on an anti-bailout but pro-euro platform, said he would reject any wholesale cuts to wages and pensions and that poor Greeks on already low salaries must be protected.

“We are trying to avert across-the-board cuts, which I categorically oppose,” Kouvelis said after
the leaders of the three parties in Greece’s ruling coalition huddled together to discuss the plan. “Low-income earners must not bleed any further.”

Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos said the party leaders would continue talks to ensure the cuts were “balanced and just” and did not “destroy the middle class”.

Previous austerity packages have plunged Greece into a depression with widespread unemployment and business closures.