Finmin sees vote on new measures next week

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a Parliamentary committee on Wednesday that a new raft of austerity measures ? which includes extra wage and pension cuts and a scheme forcing thousands of civil servants into early retirement or redundancy ? must be approved before the next scheduled summit of eurozone leaders on October 23 when a decision is expected to be made on the release of crucial emergency funding for Greece.

The new legislation is ?extremely urgent,? Venizelos said, adding that the aim was to bring it to a parliamentary vote by next Thursday. ?Let us vote on this bill so that the country is ready and has valid arguments by October 23,? he said.

Venizelos told lawmarkers at a reading of the legislation in parliament on Wednesday that he was open to proposals for possible amendments to the legislation.

?We are open, until the very last moment of the plenary session debate, to examine every good and well-documented proposal,? Venizelos said. ?We have all the good will to make amendments as long as they do not raise public payroll costs.?

The minister added that the government was currently drafting reforms aimed at offering welfare support to families with three children and more.

Responding to a fresh barrage of criticism of the new austerity measures by some MPs, Venizelos said they constituted the ?gentlest and friendliest? scenario. ?Whom should we be considering when drafting laws ? the unemployed and the new generation or the well-paid employees of the public sector?? the minister remarked.

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