Sun, February 19, 2012
Business > Economy

Greek cabinet approves supplementary austerity package

2012-02-18 20:47:49 GMT2012-02-19 04:47:49(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

A protester raises a Greek flag during an anti-austerity rally in front of the parliament in Athens February 18, 2012. Greece's cabinet tackled on Saturday how to implement austerity demanded by the EU and IMF as a 130-billion-euro ($171-billion) rescue seemed within reach, while the euro zone considered modifying a deal with private creditors to help Athens reduce its huge debts. REUTERS

ATHENS, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Greek cabinet approved on Saturday evening a final supplementary austerity package to secure further international financing next week to avoid bankruptcy in March.

During the euro group meeting on Monday the discussion regarding the Greek new economic program would be concluded, said Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos chairing the extraordinary cabinet meeting, expressing confidence for a positive outcome.

The additional 325 million euros worth (427 million U.S. dollars) spending cuts sealed on Saturday were one of the last preconditions set by European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors in order to give the "green light" to a 130-billion-euro (170 billion U.S. dollars) bailout package to Greece, the second in two years.

The bill with the final measures that includes fresh 12 percent cuts to main pensions exceeding 1,300 euros per month and auxiliary pensions above 200 euros per month, along new reductions on salaries of civil servants, is expected to be put for voting in parliament by Monday on time for the crucial Euro group meeting.

Greece has been committed to a total of 3.2 billion euros budget cuts this year included in a bill approved by the assembly on Monday in order to secure the release of further international funds on time to be repay a 14.5 billion euros bond on March 20.

Without the aid, which also clears the way for a deal on a "haircut" of Greek state bonds owned by private creditors to ease by almost a third an over 360 billion euros debt burden, the country could default, sending shockwaves across the euro zone and global economy.

The latest wave of belt-tightening measures in a recession-hit country has increased reactions by labor unions and ordinary Greeks. The two umbrella trade unions of private and public sector workers GSEE and ADEDY have called for new demonstrations in front of the parliament on Sunday.

High school and university students gathered at Syntagma square on Saturday afternoon to protest the "unfair burden placed on poor peoples' shoulders," as written on banners.

This time they were symbolically joined by thousands protesters participating in rallies "in solidarity with Greek people" staged in dozens cities across Europe and the U.S. under the main slogan "We are all Greeks now."


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