greek lawmakers to approve tentative growth budget
Last Updated : GMT 03:09:26
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Greek lawmakers to approve tentative growth budget

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Greek lawmakers to approve tentative growth budget

Athens - AFP

Greece's parliament prepared on Saturday to approve next year's budget, which forecasts an end to the recession that has gripped the country since 2008. The coalition government has a four-seat majority in parliament, and the budget is expected to pass, notably since more controversial legislation covering property issues will be debated separately next week. "I do not expect (a setback)," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said Friday in reference to the budget vote. The budget plans for Greece's deep recession to end next year with 0.6 percent growth following a 4.0 percent contraction in 2013. The text submitted to lawmakers also forecasts an extra 2.1 billion euros ($2.8 billion) in tax revenue and a 3.1 billion euro cut to state spending. But the budget was introduced despite Athens' failure to reach full agreement with auditors from the troika of international creditors that have extended it bailout loans, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. The troika predicts that Greece's 2014 fiscal gap will exceed 1.5 billion euros, while the Greek government estimates the sum at slightly more than 500 million euros. The talks on the latest loan release, which began in September and will continue this month, are also stumbling on the issues of a new property tax, home foreclosures, layoffs in the state sector and the slow pace of privatisation. The government is under pressure from the troika to loosen a moratorium on home foreclosures, but such a measure is likely to be opposed by several ruling party lawmakers and could risk the cohesion of the conservative-socialist coalition. Greece hopes to conclude its troika talks before January 1, when it assumes the rotating European Union presidency for the next six months. "Greece has made impressive progress over the last year, and the hard work is paying off. Greece is set to emerge from recession next year and is on track to reach a primary budget surplus," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Brussels. "However we know that the economic situation is still fragile and this is not the time to fall victim to reform fatigue. More work is needed on the fiscal package, tax and public administration reform, privatisations and improvements to the business environment and product and service markets," Barroso said. The parliament session was set to begin at 11:00 pm (2200 GMT) Saturday.

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