NEWS

Government plans new round of cuts

Government officials were on Sunday believed to be finalizing their proposals for a new raft of austerity measures aimed at raising 25 billion euros over the next four years as officials from Greece?s international creditors are set to arrive in Athens in the coming days.

There had been no official confirmation by late Sunday about what the new measures would entail, although sources said they would include restrictions to tax-deductible expenses for high income earners, 4.6 billion euros in public sector wage cuts, an increase in road tax and a reduction in social welfare benefits.

The visiting officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund are expected to demand immediate measures to raise between 2 and 4 billion euros this year and up to 23 billion euros between 2012 and 2015.

Some of the revenue is to go toward covering the discrepancy in the 2010 budget deficit figures that emerged last week. Sources said figures sent by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) to Eurostat, the statistical arm of the Commission, showed the deficit to be 10.6 percent of gross domestic product rather than 9.5 percent. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou did not confirm the new figure but had said last week that the deficit would be larger than expected.

Government officials are also to brief the visiting inspectors on how they aim to raise 50 billion euros by 2015 through privatizations.

Meanwhile, Papaconstantinou and a spokesperson for the IMF refuted a report in German news magazine Der Spiegel that the Fund is pushing Greece to restructure its debt.

?There is absolutely no chance of a restructuring of Greek debt,? Papaconstantinou told Reuters on Saturday.

The IMF also denied the report. ?As we have said consistently, the IMF supports the Greek government?s position of no debt restructuring and its determination to fully service its debt obligations. Any reports claiming otherwise are wrong,? an IMF spokeswoman told Reuters.