Greece outlines plan to ease bailout burden
Greece's new coalition government has outlined the concessions it hopes to exact from Europe's leaders on its €130bn bailout package, as its two top politicians receive hospital treatment.
With a crucial summit between European leaders set for this Thursday and Friday in Brussels, the Greek government said it would press for an extra two years' grace to meet the tough deficit targets laid down in the bailout deal, and was hoping to reverse cuts in the minimum wage and cancel planned civil service layoffs.
"The general target is for there to be no further reductions in wages or pensions and no more taxes," said a statement made by the three parties that make up the new coalition.
Unemployment benefit would be paid out for two years instead of one under the coalition's plans. It will go ahead with the €50bn of privatisations demanded by Greece's creditors, but would like part of this to be achieved by public-private partnerships instead of outright sales.
Prime minister Antonis Samaras had an emergency operation yesterday to repair a damaged retina, while his finance minister, Vassilis Rapanos, was kept under observation in hospital after collapsing last Friday.
Mr Samaras beat the anti-austerity Syriza party in a close-fought general election -- the second in six weeks -- last Sunday.
But his New Democracy party won with a promise to fight for less stringent conditions on the aid Greece receives from its eurozone partners and the IMF.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has made it clear that she has no intention of renegotiating the package though Europe's leaders may fear the reaction of Greece's voters if they fail to offer them anything.
Simon Derrick, currency strategist at BNY Mellon, pointed out that Athens's position was weak because it urgently needs the next tranche of money, which the troika will only release if it is satisfied that the country is complying with its austerity programme.