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PM confident crucial votes will end euro exit speculation

Talk of Greece exiting the euro will end after critical votes in Parliament this week on new austerity measures, labor reforms and the 2013 budget, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Sunday.

The three-party government will submit the package of measures to Parliament on Monday and must approve both it and the 2013 budget to receive aid from the IMF and European Union that it needs to avoid bankruptcy.

The junior ruling Democratic Left Party has refused to back the mix of tax hikes, spending reductions worth 13.5 billion euros because they are tied to measures that will cut wages and severance payments and scrap automatic wage hikes.

But Samaras's New Democracy Party and most of the deputies of its coalition Socialist partners are expected to push the package through in a slim majority in a vote expected on Wednesday.

Lawmakers should then approve the 2013 budget in another crucial vote on November 11, leading to the release of 31.5 billion euros in aid funds and putting to rest any talk of Greece exiting the euro, Samaras said.

"As soon as the new measures are passed and we get the critical aid tranche, liquidity will start again to feed businesses and households, uncertainty will end, sentiment will change and the fear of a return to the drachma will disappear, he told New Democracy lawmakers at a party meeting.

"All this (talk of Greece exiting the euro) will end irreversibly."

He added that the package would include the last cuts to wages and pensions -- a sore point among Greeks weary of a five-year recession that has ravaged middle-class living standards.

"In the last two years, through cuts in wages, pensions, government spending, the recession and unemployment, we lost 35 percent of our living standard as a country, he said. If we had exited the euro, we would have lost twice as much. [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Sunday November 4, 2012 (17:50)  
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