Greek coalition seeks to delay deadline for Eurozone austerity package
GREECE’S new coalition government said yesterday that it is looking to extend the deadlines for tough austerity measures imposed under its international bailout agreement by two years.
The new government will also seek to repeal some taxes and halt layoffs, they said in a policy statement released by the three-party coalition that took power last week.
“The general aim is no more cuts to salaries and pensions, no more taxes,” the statement said, adding that it would not carry out any public sector layoffs.
Antonis Samaras, whose conservative New Democracy party came first in 17 June elections but did not win enough votes to govern alone, heads a government that includes his party’s long-time socialist rivals, PASOK, and the small Democratic Left party.
The creation of a government following two inconclusive national elections ended weeks of political uncertainty that had led to fears of Greece being forced out of Europe’s joint currency.
While pledging to stick to the country’s bailout agreement with other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, all three parties had said they would seek to renegotiate certain terms of the loan agreement.
The new government will aim to extend by at least two years the deadlines for it to impose tough fiscal reforms “to support demand, development and employment,” it said.
“This way the final fiscal target can be achieved without further cuts to salaries and pensions or the public investment programme, but through curbing waste and the targeted fighting of corruption, tax evasion” and the black economy.
The statement said it would seek to reduce consumer tax on the restaurant industry and for agriculture and extend one-year unemployment benefit by another year.
It will also seek to extend unemployment benefit to the self-employed who have lost their businesses and gradually increase the tax-free income limit to European averages.
Meanwhile, both the new prime minister and finance minister remained in hospitals yesterday, being treated for different ailments less than three days after a government was formed in the crisis-struck country.
Prime Minister Samaras underwent eye surgery to repair the early stages of a detached retina. The problem was discovered during what his office said was a routine eye test on Friday. State radio said the surgery was completed successfully shortly after midday.
Although Samaras was able to returned to his office on Friday afternoon, a meeting of his conservative party’s newly elected deputies that had been planned for that evening was cancelled.
Separately, newly appointed finance minister Vassilis Rapanos, 65, remained in a private clinic after being rushed to hospital on Friday suffering from intense abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness, sweating and weakness. The hospital said yesterday that he had been submitted to tests, the results of which were “very satisfactory”, and that his condition was “stable and improving”.
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