Arab Today, arab today greece talks with lenders still have a \long way to go\
Last Updated : GMT 21:09:51
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Greece talks with lenders still have a \'long way to go\'

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Greece talks with lenders still have a \'long way to go\'

Athens - AFP

Talks between the Greek government and its international lenders on an austerity package to keep the country afloat still have a \"long way to go\", a government source said on Sunday. \"We still have a long way to go. We have not completed anything, we spoke in general terms,\" the source said after talks between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and representatives of the so-called troika of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank. A troika member said they were working \"day and night\" on the audit, which will determine whether debt-laden Greece has done enough to secure the release of a vital 31.5 billion euro ($39.9 billion) loan tranche. Athens has to finalise a new austerity programme within days to save 11.5 billion euros in 2013 and 2014 but is pleading for \"breathing space\", arguing that cutting spending too much too fast will only further depress the economy. Another meeting, this time including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, is scheduled for Monday. Meanwhile, the heads of the three parties in the Greek coalition government are expected to meet to try to find agreement on the proposed measures. The government source said that the troika of auditors \"expressed some reservations\" on certain aspects of the Greek plan, which includes new cuts in public salaries, pensions and other expenditures. The lenders also want to see Greece tackle fiscal fraud to increase the state\'s revenue as well as speed up privatisations and pursue deregulation of the labour market, another top government official said. The troika representatives will remain in Athens \"for some time\" and are expected to accompany the Greek delegation to an informal meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Nicosia on September 14, the government source said, adding that the atmosphere at Sunday\'s meeting was \"better than before\". After the talks the IMF representative Poul Thomsen said, \"It was a good meeting,\" while Klaus Masuch from the ECB added: \"We\'re working day and night.\" The auditors are reviewing Greece\'s efforts to cut its huge deficit and adopt reforms needed to help improve its economic competitiveness as agreed as part of its 130-billion-euro bailout package. The new measures reportedly include a 3.5-billion-euro slash to pensions, health cuts worth 1.47 billion euros and a 517-million-euro reduction to defence. Key state staff paid under so-called \"special salary schemes\" -- a group that includes police, firefighters, clerics, diplomats, judges and the military -- are also facing an average pay cut of 12 percent, according to media reports. \"The key is that the government restore its credibility... and implement the necessary structural reforms,\" EU president Herman Van Rompuy was quoted as telling the To Vima newspaper on Sunday. But the new proposed spending cuts have triggered new protests. Thousands of Greeks took to the streets of the northern city of Thessaloniki on Saturday, with one banner bluntly declaring: \"The Greek people can\'t take any more.\" \"The resistance of Greeks has reached its limit, which means we need a recovery as soon as possible,\" Samaris said on Saturday, stressing the importance of a positive report from the troika. The Greek premier has warned that time is pressing, with economic growth forecast to shrink by seven percent this year, and a quarter of the workforce now without jobs. Chancellor Angela Merkel of European powerhouse Germany has insisted that she wants Greece to stay in the euro despite its economic woes. \"I want to say very clearly... that Greece is part of the eurozone and I want Greece to remain part of the eurozone. This guides all our discussions,\" Merkel said at a joint news conference with Samaras last month. Der Spiegel reported in its edition due to appear on Monday that Merkel and her advisors fear a Greek exit would trigger a domino effect akin to what followed the 2008 collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers.  

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