Greece vows to finalize fresh deficit cutting

Updated: 2011-09-19 11:45


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Greece vows to finalize fresh deficit cutting
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos addresses reporters after an unscheduled cabinet meeting in Athens Sept 18, 2011. Greece must take tough decisions to avoid default and stay in the euro zone, Venizelos said on Sunday after the cabinet meeting. [Photo/Agencies]

ATHENS - The Greek government will finalize a fresh package of deficit cutting measures after talks with EU/IMF lenders scheduled for Monday, Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Sunday evening.

"If we wish to save Greece from a default and put an end to speculation, we must reach three crucial strategic decisions - fully meeting fiscal targets, achieving primary surpluses and proceeding immediately to all structural reforms," stressed Venizelos in a statement following a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Sunday's cabinet meeting resulted in a clear framework for the teleconference Venizelos will hold with EU/IMF officials on Monday, as he stated.

Greece is ready to fulfill its commitments to slash deficits and reduce state expenses through reforms that will be accelerated, he said, noting that it is up to the rest of the EU member countries as well to take the necessary steps for the implementation of the July 21 agreement on the further support of the debt-ridden country and the common currency.

"The climate of uncertainty and nervousness in the global economy at the moment allows speculators to continue attacks against the euro," he repeated.

Venizelos blamed the Greek main opposition conservative party leader and a part of local media and commentators of "irresponsible analyses and suggestions that are undermining efforts to counter the crisis."

According to Greek media, Papandreou cancelled his scheduled trip to the United States this weekend to promote a new package of austerity measures in the coming days that will secure Athens the sixth tranche of a vital EU/IMF bailout aid this autumn.

Greece is under mounting pressure this autumn to speed up structural reforms, including the dramatic overhaul of the public sector, as the country seems to have fallen behind on fiscal targets set since May 2010, when it secured the EU/IMF aid to escape bankruptcy, despite a wave of austerity and reform policies introduced over the past 18 months.

An announcement earlier this month on a new property tax to raise revenues did not satisfy foreign lenders, according to media reports. At a eurozone meeting in Poland last Friday, Finance Ministers decided to postpone to this October a decision regarding the release of the next tranche to Athens.

According to Greek officials, without the disbursement of new foreign aid, Greece could run out of cash by mid-October.

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