Greece faces the "last hurdle" before
the start of recovery, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in
an interview published on Sunday.
"We restored the country's credibility. Now we face the last hurdle," stressed Samaras speaking to Greek newspaper "Kathimerini" as bailout talks with inspectors of international creditors in Athens on the release of further loans were in the "final stretch" ahead of the October 18 EU summit, according to government sources.
The Greek Prime Minister also expressed confidence that he will reach Brussels with a final agreement on the fresh austerity package for 2013-2014 and other prerequisites requested by European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the disbursement of the next 31.5 billion euro rescue loans.
Without the new tranche, debt-crippled Greece could financially collapse by year end, sending shockwaves across Europe and the international financial system.
"Several positive steps have been taken, yet much remains to be done," IMF's chief Christine Lagarde told the same Greek newspaper.
In the meantime, month-long marathon negotiations between auditors and Greek government officials entered the "final stretch" on Sunday at the Greek Finance Ministry, according to sources. A blueprint of a deal could be sealed by Samaras and his coalition partners by Wednesday.
Athens agreed to the inspectors' demand for the introduction of more than 9 billion euros' (11.7 billion U.S. dollars) worth of austerity cuts in 2013 up from about 8 billion euros spending cuts foreseen in the draft budget unveiled earlier this autumn and the approval of some key structural reforms included in a list of 89 "prior actions" under bailout agreements to secure the new loans, local media reported.
The government is said to have also accepted the dismissal of some 15,000 public servants in coming months, the immediate opening up of closed professions and markets, an overhaul of the labor relations and the taxation system before the disbursement, due by December, according to government sources.
The deal will enable Samaras to push during the EU summit and in coming weeks for a two-year extension of the tough fiscal adjustment period to 2016 to tackle deep recession fuelled by austerity measures imposed under bailout agreements since 2010 to counter the debt crisis, local analysts noted.
Athens pledges that by late November the austerity package and the bills on the reforms will have passed the assembly. The three- party coalition which took office after June's national elections holds an easy parliamentary majority.
Trade unions and opposition parties protesting painful cuts on wages, pensions and tax increases over the past two years which have fuelled recession already in the fifth year, warn with further strikes and mass demonstrations. A new nationwide general strike has already been called for the upcoming Thursday to coincide with the EU summit. (1 euro= 1.29 U.S. dollars)
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