Greece Seeks Two-Year Break on EU-IMF Austerity

Greece Seeks Two-Year Break on EU-IMF Austerity

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has asked EU-IMF creditors to extend a tough debt bailout programme by two years so as to ease the pain on an economy struggling in a fifth year of recession.

“We ask for an adjustment,” Samaras said in a speech to parliament as he presented his government’s targets for the next four years, promising to push through a privatization drive and keep Greece in the eurozone.

In exchange, Samaras promised that his newly elected government would pledge to meet the budget commitments they are demanding, MSN News reported.

His speech comes as auditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund pick through government books to determine how well Greece has met commitments made in return for a 237-billion-euro bailout programme.

The Prime Minster’s request for an extension to 2016 for Greece’s deficit to fall to the EU ceiling comes at difficult time with investor sentiment again turning sceptical about eurozone prospects in general.

The International Monetary Fund added to the gloom on the global outlook, cautioning that growth could slow even faster if the eurozone crisis drags on, a warning made more urgent by disappointing US jobs data.

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

At the beginning of his speech, 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.”

Samaras also promised the “closure or merger of several state entities” before the end of the year and faster privatization, including the national railway company. (QNA)