As Prime Minister Antonis Samaras prepared to meet with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at 5 p.m. on Friday ahead of talks in the coming days with officials representing Greece?s foreign creditors on an 11.5-billion-euro austerity package, the premier?s coalition partners appeared to abide by their conviction that some of the more onerous terms of the blueprint should be replaced by less harsh measures.
Four members of Socialist PASOK sent a letter to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, calling for proposed cuts to low-level pensions, civil servants? salaries and disability benefits to be taken off the table of negotiations.
The letter — which was signed by Filippos Sachinidis, Paris Koukoulopoulos, Giorgos Koutroumanis and Christos Protopappas but which was decribed as «expressing the party’s position on the 11.5-billion-euro package of measures» by the party’s press office ? said that the proposed cuts to pensions were ?of a horizontal nature and extremely unfair? and the cuts to disability benefits were ?extremely harsh,? noting that the reductions foreseen could reach up to 40 percent of the total.
The letter also claimed that foreign creditors had underestimated the revenue of Greece?s social security organizations by around 1.5 billion euros, which has led to a widening of the budget deficit, and called for this amount to be subtracted from the package of measures. It added that other measures should be taken to boost social security contributions and that proposed cuts to pensions should not be horizontal but scaled according to income.
The letter emphasized that Greece?s request for a two-year extension of its fiscal adjustment period should be raised again at a European Council summit on October 18 «at the latest.”
Meanwhile a spokesman for Democratic Left, the third party in the coalition, said that party officials had submitted their proposals for 4 billion euros in alternative measures out of the 11.5-billion-euro total. Andreas Papadopoulos said the measures had been costed by the State Audit Council but provided no details. Sources have indicated that Democratic Left wants further cuts to defense and health spending instead of cuts to low-level pensions and social benefits.
There was no immediate response from Samaras’ office to the proposals by the coalition partners but the premier has reportedly insisted in private that foreign creditors are unlikely to accept a softening of the package.