EU, IMF, Greece to finalize financial aid talks this weekend

07:39, April 30, 2010      

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The European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Greece would conclude talks this weekend on the terms of an EU-IMF financial aid package for Greece, the Greek government said Thursday.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou would then brief leaders of all political parties with parliamentary seats about the deal reached during the talks, according to Greek government spokesman George Petalotis.

The government would submit the deal to the parliament for a vote, probably on May 6, he said.

Meanwhile, a Eurogroup meeting on the aid package will be held on May 4 and a summit of Eurozone member countries on the issue is scheduled for May 10.

A joint team of EU-IMF experts has been negotiating with the Greek government over the terms of the aid package here since last week.

During the talks, the team asked for a further 10-percent cut in salaries and allowances of civil servants and layoffs of public sector workers in agencies that will be closed.

Meanwhile, it requested cutbacks on salaries of private sector employees that include bonuses for Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. They also want Greece to raise its value added tax to 23 percent.

Papandreou told labor unions and business leaders at a meeting in the morning the EU and the IMF were seeking additional terms for Greece to swallow. Otherwise, he said, Greece probbaly won't get an aid package worth up to 120 billion euros (158.9 billion U.S. dollars).

But labor unions, employers and public sector workers resisted the terms, saying Greek labor costs were not the source of the economic crisis and cutbacks on salaries would create more problems.

Giannis Panagopoulos, president of GSEE, an umbrella union of private sector employees, said the EU-IMF terms meant there would be less contributions to social security funds, which already faced tremendous challenges. The funds could lose more than 4 billion euros (5.2 billion U.S. dollars) a year according to some estimates, he said.

The government spokesman acknowledged some of the terms would be painful for its citizens, but he said they were "absolutely necessary".

"In a position such as the one Greece ended up in, there are no red lines," Petalotis said.

Source: Xinhua


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