[QODLink]
Europe
Greek PM seeks 'adjustments' to bailout deal
Antonis Samaras wants extension of "deficit benchmarks" by two years as he spells out his government's strategy.
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2012 16:38
Samaras has stressed the goal of his government is "to guarantee the place of Greece in the eurozone" [Reuters]

Antonis Samaras, the newly elected Greek prime minister, has asked creditors for more time for a tough bailout programme, to ease the pain on an economy struggling in its fifth year of recession.

"We ask for the adjustment to be reached not in two years but later," he told parliament on Friday as he presented targets for the next four years.

Follow our comprehensive Euro Crisis spotlight coverage

Samaras said his government would strive to correct past mistakes and make up for lost time while ensuring the country's membership in the 17-nation eurozone.

In exchange for extending a 2014 deadline to meet strict deficit benchmarks, Samaras promised that his newly elected government would meet all other commitments which lenders have demanded.

"Our problem is not adopting reforms, which we will do without question. It is not reaching an objective, which we will meet. But it is finding an end to the recession," he said.

Samaras spoke as auditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund have been checking government books to see if Greece has met pledges made in return for its latest 130-billion-euro bailout.

Greece must win the confidence of the auditors to obtain the next slice of aid money which it needs to pay current expenditure.

Samaras stressed that the "the goal of the government is to guarantee the place of Greece in the eurozone against those who want to undermine it”.

'Faster privatisation'

He also promised the "closure or merger of several state entities" this year and faster privatisation, including of the national railway company.


John Psaropoulos on the Greece confidence vote

He also repeated a warning made on Thursday by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras that Greece's recovery programme was "off-track" after two election campaigns in two months.

"We will do everything to change what needs to be changed, fight against recession so that the country meets its targets ... while reinforcing our country in the heart of the euro and the European Union," Samaras said.

Greek ministers have been instructed to co-operate with the EU-IMF inspectors, who began their audit earlier this week, and refrain from asking for outright renegotiation requests.

Greece said it will seek on Tuesday to raise 1.25 billion euros in six-month treasury bills. Until the EU and IMF release more funds, the Greek government needs all the money it can find.

Samaras, 61, took office after June 17 elections, promising an austerity-weary nation that he would re-examine salary cuts, tax rises and job losses.

Greece was rescued in May 2010 and late last year agreed another accord which included a big write-off of debt owed to private investors.

The EU-IMF audit is expected to last weeks and actual negotiations with creditors are set to begin only at the end of the month.

526

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list