Greek PM: $17.5B in cuts, taxes best deal

Oct. 31, 2012 at 3:00 AM
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ATHENS, Greece, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Greece's prime minister insisted $17.5 billion in austerity measures and tax hikes was the best possible deal Greece could work out with international lenders.

But left-wing lawmakers in conservative Antonis Samaras' coalition said they would not accept the painful economic package Greece's Finance Ministry worked out last week to get $41 billion in additional financial aid Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has said Greece needs by next month to avoid bankruptcy.

Those measures -- worked out with the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank, known as the troika of lenders -- include immediate wage cuts for 5,000 government workers and cuts for another 20,000 in 2013 before all 25,000 are transferred to other jobs or dismissed.

The proposed agreement includes other labor overhauls, raises the retirement age to 67 from 65, cuts the number of state university associate professors to 2,000 from 15,226 and ends most tax exemptions.

In addition, an emergency "solidarity" income tax would be extended until 2018, The New York Times reported.

Samaras Tuesday rejected demands from coalition junior partner the Democratic Left to renegotiate parts of the package that deal with labor overhauls, including easier layoff rules troika members demanded.

The party has vowed not to vote for the deal as it stands when Parliament meets next week.

The center-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or PASOK, said it refused to support the deal's wage and pension cuts.

Samaras warned of "chaos" if Parliament rejects the deal, warning that avoiding such a danger was "the responsibility of each party and every lawmaker individually."

He said approving the bailout terms would also alleviate fears Greece might leave the 17-country eurozone.

Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to meet Nov. 12 to consider whether Greece should get its new bailout installment.

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