Saturday, May 28, 2011

Greece’s Papandreou Vows to Press Austerity

May 28, 2011

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said he’ll press ahead with new austerity measures after failing to win backing from the main opposition parties as he races to keep bailout funds flowing and avoid default.

Antonis Samaras, leader of Greece’s biggest opposition party, New Democracy, rejected the plan at a meeting with Papandreou and other opposition leaders in Athens, saying his party wouldn’t be blackmailed. Papandreou said he will go ahead with the measures even while continuing to seek support and ruled out early elections.

“My determination is to continue with this program in a very determined and decisive way,” Papandreou said today at a press conference in Athens. Greece has achieved “impressive” targets and there are signs of improvement in the economy, he said, adding that the country will “soon be out of the woods” by following through with plans for fiscal adjustment, state- asset sales and development of government-owned real estate.

European Union officials have called for consensus on the package, which includes an additional 6 billion euros ($8.6 billion) of budget cuts and a plan to speed 50 billion euros of state-asset sales, before approving more aid that Greece needs to avoid default. The wage cuts and tax increases Papandreou has imposed under a 110 billion-euro bailout last year have prompted strikes and protests, complicating efforts for compromise on the new plan.


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