Greek PM Samaras set to ask for extra time

Greek PM Samaras set to ask for extra time

ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will call for a two-year extension to Greece’s austerity program when he meets Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande next week, the Financial Times has reported.

Samaras will suggest that public spending cuts be spread over four years instead of two to help the plunging Greek economy return to growth during the talks with the German chancellor and French president, according to a document seen by the newspaper.

The Greek prime minister is to meet in Athens next week with the head of eurozone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, before travelling to Berlin to meet with Merkel and with Hollande in Paris. Greek officials were not immediately available for comment yesterday was a public holiday. But Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the German position on Greek reforms remains unchanged.

‘Cancellor will listen’

“Of course the chancellor will listen to what Mr Samaras has to say here about the situation in Greece and the implementation of the program,” he told a regular government news conference in Berlin.
 “But for the entire German government, the agreed memorandum of understanding which states what the Greek obligations are remains the basis of all aid decisions.” Greece’s government is currently scrambling to find budget cuts -- amounting to 11.5 billion euros ($14.2 billion) or around five percent of GDP -- to be implemented in 2013 and 2014 as part of its existing bailout deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Samaras has made it known since before taking office in June that he favours spreading out the spending cuts demanded by Greece’s international creditors, the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Greek officials have long argued that the magnitude of the cuts demanded in exchange for bailout loans risk pushing the country into such a vicious circle of recession that it won’t be able to meet its reform targets.