Greek debt

By United Press International   |   May 6, 2010 at 8:30 AM

ATHENS, Greece, May 6 (UPI) -- Violent protests were staged outside the Greek Parliament building where lawmakers considered austerity programs to bring the country's debt under control.

The weight of Greek debt -- nearly 14 percent of gross domestic product -- is affecting the entire eurozone, as the currency drops in relative value, and stock markets worldwide, as investors wonder if more countries' economic troubles will lead to problems in meeting obligations.

The Greek government instituted a series of moves to keep investors' confidence but more were called for before the European Union and International Monetary Fund agree to release a requested $142 billion loan. Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has said such a move is the only way Athens can "escape bankruptcy."

Among steps lawmakers are looking into are: a cut to government pensions, increasing the retirement age from 61 to 63, raising fuel, tobacco and alcohol taxes 10 percent, increase the value-added tax from 19 percent to 23 percent and a freeze on public sector wages until 2014.

A general strike in protest of the moves continued Thursday with bankers walking out to protest the deaths of three workers killed when protesters Wednesday set fire to a bank.

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