Greek politicians near austerity agreement to appease lenders

City A.M. Reporter
GREEK political leaders are close to thrashing out an austerity package as demanded by the country’s lenders, but have yet to decide on how to soften its impact on low-wage earners and pensioners, government officials and party leaders said yesterday.

Greece is under pressure to drum up the nearly €12bn (£9.5bn) in cuts for the next two years to appease its lenders, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, who have put the latest tranche of aid to avert a Greek bankruptcy on hold.

The austerity package will be ready next week to be presented to the troika of inspectors from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank, Greece’s finance minister Yannis Stournaras said

“There is political agreement on the package,” Stournaras said after leaders of the three parties in Greece’s ruling coalition huddled together to discuss the plan. “The package will be sealed next week and presented to the troika.”

Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the moderate Democratic Left party that campaigned on an anti-bailout but pro-euro platform, said he would reject any wholesale cuts to wages and pensions and that poor Greeks on already low salaries must be protected.

More than 1,000 government employees took to the streets yesterday in protests over spending cuts for local authorities.

Meanwhile, the government said a small state-controlled lender, Hellenic Postbank, is no longer viable.