Greek coalition partners meet on cuts deal

Greece’s coalition partners were meeting on Thursday in a bid to conclude a package of some 11.5 billion euros in spending cuts, including savings from an increase in the retirement age and the firing of 15,000 civil servants, and another 3 billion euros? worth of tax measures.

The meeting Thursday between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Evangelos Venizelos of PASOK and Fotis Kouvelis of Democratic Left (DIMAR) comes a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through central Athens in the first general strike since the country’s coalition government was formed in June. The protest was mostly peaceful.

Speaking to Skai, DIMAR MP Nikos Tsoukalis said that no deal should be expected on Thursday.

?The package of measures has not been finalized and it will not be finalized today,? Tsoukalis told Skai ahead of the meeting.

?The mix of measures is not the one suggested by DIMAR,? he said adding that Kouvelis would turn down ?many of the measures? during the meeting.

Sources late Wednesday said that the conservative-led government has given up hope of an agreement being reached in time for eurozone finance ministers meeting on October 8 so they can decide whether to release Greece?s next loan tranche. Some within the government are concerned that there won?t be a decision at the European Union leaders? summit on October 18.

Troika envoys are expected back in Athens on Sunday.

According to reports, the proposed austerity measures include a 2 to 10 percent cut to pensions over 1,000 euros, the sacking of 15,000 state sector employees within the next couple of years, and the scrapping of all bonuses and benefits with the exception of disability benefits.

Sources said Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras expects to raise some 3 billion euros in taxes. Earlier reports set the figure at 2 billion euros.

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