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Greece hands over new austerity package to auditors

 
 
 
 
 
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Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras talks to the press after meeting with the EU-IMF-ECB troika at the prime minister’s office in Athens on September 10, 2012.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras says the cash-strapped euro member has offered its multi-billion-euro austerity program to its troika of international auditors.

“We have submitted the 11.5-billion-euro ($14.7 billion) package to the troika. A discussion and an evaluation are taking place,” Stournaras said in Athens on Monday.

“The measures are difficult. We are trying to convince them (the troika) that our arguments are correct,” he added.

The troika of inspectors from the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Athens last week, and are monitoring the indebted country’s progress regarding the implementation of reforms that are part of its bailout deal.

Matthias Mors from the EU, Klaus Masuch from the ECB and Poul Thomsen from the IMF will also decide whether Greece will be able to receive a 31-billion-euro loan from the 130-billion-euro EU-IMF rescue fund.

The proposed austerity program includes slashing pensions by 3.5 billion euros, health cuts worth 1.47 billion euros as well as a 517-million-euro reduction in defense spending.

The package has already caused public protests. About 15,000 trade unionists and leftists marched in Greece’s second biggest city of Thessaloniki on Saturday to express anger over the proposed cuts.

Last week, about 4,000 police, coastguards and firemen staged demonstrations outside the finance ministry and parliament to show their annoyance at budget cuts.

Greece, suffering from its worst postwar recession, faces bankruptcy and a potential exit from the euro area.

Unemployment has soared to a record high in the country, with almost one in four without a job.

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