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Grexit fears return at start of key week

Monday, November 05, 2012 - 02:06

Nov.05 - Greece's government presents a new austerity package to parliament as it faces a week of strikes and protests over proposals which must win approval if the country is to secure more aid and stave off bankruptcy. Joanna Partridge reports

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Athens at a standstill. The transport strike is just the beginning - Greeks have a week of walkouts ahead of them. It's part of a series of protests against a new 13.5 billion euro package of austerity measures which parliament should vote on on Wednesday. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' government intends to cut wages and pensions once again, along with more tax hikes. New labour rules will also make it easier for firms to hire and fire workers. Parliament must agree the reforms in order to get the latest 31.5 billion bailout from the EU and IMF. Without it, the country will go bankrupt. But Greeks have had enough. SOUNDBITE: 30-YEAR-OLD ATHENS RESIDENT, ARIS, SAYING (Greek): "I want the entire country to go on strike, the entire country to shut down because these measures must not pass." SOUNDBITE: 30-YEAR-OLD FURNITURE DESIGNER, CHRISTOS ANDREAS, SAYING (Greek): "It's definitely a hassle. All these people on strike all the time. The strikes are not the only solution." Four years of cuts have wiped out a fifth of the economy, and a quarter of people are unemployed. These journalists oppose the new reforms. The Greek government's popularity is sliding, but Justin Urquhart-Stewart from Seven Investment Management says it has worked to get the support of its international lenders. SOUNDBITE: Justin Urquhart-Stewart, Seven Investment Management, saying (English): "Really what has to be done is that actually a policy within the euro zone needs to change in order to actually give some confidence, that vital word that runs any economy, for the Greeks to actually realise that yes, they're going to have to take the difficult medicine, but there is in fact something positive at the end of it, because progress is being made and they start moving towards a growth strategy. They're not there yet, but you have to be able to show this to individuals to actually show them that there is a future." The government insists leaving the euro would be a "nightmare" but that prospect has arisen again. The economy is set to shrink more than forecast in 2013, with debt peaking at 192% of GDP in 2014. The troika's report is yet to be published. But restructuring is looking likely as Athens' debt seems more unsustainable.

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Grexit fears return at start of key week

Monday, November 05, 2012 - 02:06

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