ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s government has finished drafting a series of austerity cuts worth 12 billion euros to appease international lenders, officials said on Wednesday, moving Athens a step forward in concluding lengthy negotiations on the package.
Athens’ initial proposals for the cuts were partially rejected earlier this month by the troika of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund lenders, forcing the government back to the drawing board.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his finance minister agreed on the latest list of measures at a late-night meeting Tuesday, and will now seek the blessing of coalition party leaders and troika officials, government officials said.
“The government has finalized the 11.5 billion euro-measure package... it has settled all its details,” a senior government official told Reuters, declining to give any details on what was agreed.
The bulk of cuts in the unpopular package involve slashing wages, pensions and welfare benefits. Angry Greeks take to the streets later on Wednesday to protest the measures as part of a 24-hour strike called by Greece’s biggest unions.
A meeting of party chiefs in Samaras’s fragile conservative-led coalition is expected on Thursday to discuss the cuts. Talks with troika officials - which have been marred by tension and disagreement over public sector reform plans - are expected to resume after the inspectors return early next week.
Near-bankrupt Greece needs the troika’s blessing on the spending cuts worth nearly 12 billion euros to unlock its next tranche of aid, without which it faces certain default and a potential exit from the euro zone.
Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas, Writing by Deepa Babington; editing by Patrick Graham