Greece cuts unlikely to reach agreement before Mid-November

Greek officials have admitted that friction with international creditors was such it was unlikely a package of austerity cuts that have been set as the price of further aid would be approved by the Athens parliament before mid-November.

At no other time has near-bankrupt Greece so needed the €31.5bn (£25bn) in rescue funds dependent on the measures. With public coffers set to run dry by the end of November, the country could be forced to default on its debt mountain if there are further delays in the disbursement, put on hold since July.

The setback on Monday, the latest in four often tumultuous months of tortuous negotiations with the country’s “troika” of lenders – the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – has highlighted the difficulty in drafting draconian spending cuts so fiercely opposed by unions and political forces in a country already hit by record levels of unemployment and poverty.

“They are pushing us to the absolute brink,” said one high-ranking official at the labour ministry. “They don’t just want our jacket but our shirt,” he said, adding that Greece has already reduced its unit labour costs by a dramatic 15%.

With what the state-run TV channel NET called “open fronts” on all the main issues – including demands for up to 15,000 civil servants to be laid off immediately – it is now unlikely that the €13.5bn package of cuts will be approved by the Greek parliament before the next meeting of eurozone finance ministers on 12 November.

For the first time since assuming the post in June, Athens’ technocrat finance minister, Yiannis Stournaras, looked unusually downbeat as he emerged from talks with the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, and attributed the latest hurdle to the “tremendous amount of work” that the negotiations entail.

Via – Guardian


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