Greek coalition meeting to finalise austerity cuts


Greece’s coalition partners were meeting on Wednesday to finalise 11.5 billion euros ($14.3 billion) in savings needed to unlock bankruptcy-saving loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the government “had agreed” on the package of measures after a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held to “coordinate government policy and an action timetable.”
But Samaras has yet to convince his allies, the socialist and moderate leftist parties, on the full scope of measures.
A meeting between Samaras, socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos and leftist leader Fotis Kouvelis began at 0700 GMT.
The PM’s coalition partners are balking at planned cuts to pensions and benefits and reductions in the pay of army and police staff, which Samaras’ party had pledged to defend before coming to power in June.
The new cuts, designed to apply over the next two years, are essential for Greece to secure a loan instalment of 31.5 billion euros, part of a 130-billion-euro bailout from the EU and the IMF, to keep its economy afloat.
Athens is also hoping to receive a two-year extension that will enable the recession-struck country to carry out its programme of spending cuts and asset sales through 2016 instead of by the end of 2014.