Greek coalition passes key budget cuts despite anger
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Riot policemen engulfed in flames after protesters threw petrol bombs in Athens. REUTERS photoGreece’s coalition government has agreed on the main points of a multi-billion-euro austerity package needed to unlock EU-IMF loans, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said yesterday.
“We have agreed on the main points,” Stournaras said following a meeting of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his political allies.
“We must agree with the ‘troika’ first, and (EU) peers next,” the finance minister added in reference to Greece’s three public creditors, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
11.5 billion euros in cuts
According to the finance ministry, the budget measures approved include 11.5 billion euros ($14.8 billion) in spending cuts and two billion euros in fresh tax revenue.
Greece’s trio of public creditors had given the government a week to finalize the cuts.
Troika representatives are expected to return to Athens by early next week, and the government hopes to have the package ready before eurozone finance ministers meet Oct 8.
Stournaras could not say when the new measures would be presented for parliamentary approval.
“We don’t know when this will happen,” he told reporters.
Fotis Kouvelis, the head of the moderate leftist party that is part of the coalition, said that Greece would seek to introduce a clause permitting milder austerity measures if government revenue proved higher than anticipated.
The austerity package is designed to unblock access to 31.5 billion euros in loans, part of Greece’s second massive rescue package.
Greece has asked for an extra two years to apply the new austerity drive and Kouvelis said the government would press its claim “at multiple political levels.”
Greece begins sale of gaming monopoly
ATHENS – Agence France-Presse
The Greek privatization fund yesterday said it had launched an international tender for the sale of the state’s 33 percent stake in the gaming monopoly OPAP.
“The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund announces the launch of an international public tender process for the sale of its 33 percent shareholding in the Hellenic Football Prognostics Organisation (OPAP),” the agency said.
The tender is to run until October 19. “The complete privatization of OPAP will be carried out transparently, rapidly, and with efficiency,” OPAP chief executive Yiannis Emiris pledged in a statement.
The government had earlier planned to sell only 29 percent of the company.
OPAP is Greece’s most profitable state company, clearing a net profit of 126.1 million euros in the first six months of this year.