PM, ministers thrash out measures

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was meeting on Wednesday with Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos and Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis to finalize the last few cuts aimed at presenting international creditors with a plan for 11.5 billion euros in savings for 2013 and 2014.

Some 2.8 billion euros in savings are to come from additional cuts to health spending while Vroutsis is in the difficult position of overseeing up to 5 billion euros in cuts to benefits and the imposition of a ceiling of around 2,400 euros on pensions, state television Net reported.

The package of cuts is to be rubber-stamped by the government on Wednesday before being presented to top envoys from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, known as the troika, on Thursday by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras. Samaras, who is to receive European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday, is to meet the troika officials on Friday. The premier is expected to press the foreign envoys for leniency and understanding in view of the deeper-than-expected recession that has hampered Greece’s efforts to implement reforms.

On Wednesday, Stournaras met with the US Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for International Finance Charles Collyns, a former IMF economist, for talks on Greece’s efforts to privatize state assets. Collyns reportedly asked Stournaras about the prospects for selloffs which have been dogged by delays blamed on political upheaval and bureaucratic problems.

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