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Gov't official cites 2-bln-euro 'gap' in austerity package

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Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Wednesday wrapped up a meeting with the heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika, held to negotiate the measures that will make up an 11.9-billion euro austerity package. There were no official announcements.

According to a senior finance ministry official, the troika has accepted measures amounting to some 8.5-9.5 billion euro, including cuts to the budgets for health, defence and local authorities, and the government's economic team is now fighting to reach agreement on a 'gap' of roughly two billion euro that remains in order to reach the 11.9 billion euro target demanded by Greece's creditors.

He referred to the remaining two billion needed to complete the package as the 'hard core' of spending cuts and said that an increase in the age of retirement by two years was still 'on the table'.

The meeting was held with the participation of troika economic experts, brought in to help with the discussion on macroeconomic considerations, such as the depth of the recession, the sustainability of public debt and possible measures to reduce the deficit.

With another meeting due to take place on Thursday between the three party leaders in the coalition government, the finance ministry source appeared visibly frustrated at what he called 'grumbling and leaks' from the other parties backing the government.

"The measures were given to them in detail. We proposed that they come to the negotiations with the troika and they refused," the same official said, stressing that while Stournaras and the government's financial team were 'fighting' to get the troika's approval for the remaining measures, they were receiving no help but only criticism and grumbling.amna

SOURCE: ATHENS NEWS AGENCY

Last Updated Friday, 21 September 2012
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