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Business

Greece reaches deal with creditors on austerity drive

The Greek government and international creditors have said they now agree on the scope of austerity measures that Athens needs to push through. The harsh cuts are a prerequisite for new bailout loans to be granted.

The government in Athens on Tuesday reached agreement with international lenders on proposed austerity measures to qualify for another bailout installment. "Today we concluded the negotiations on the measures and the budget," Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a statement.

Samaras had warned his country would run out of cash in November unless it could secure a 31.2-billion-euro ($40-billion) loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The two sides agreed on Athens' 13.5 billion euros in austerity measures, with the bulk of them to be incorporated in the 2013 budget bill.

Uncertainties ahead

But the government on Tuesday again failed to secure support for the package from its coalition ally, the Democratic Left party. The latter confirmed it would vote against the labor reforms as proposed by international lenders and accepted by the government.

"We do not agree with the result of the negotiations, and we'll stick to our position, the party said in a statement.

"If the deal does not pass, the country will be led to chaos," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras commented.

The government could pass the reforms without the Democratic Left party's support. But a vote against the package stands to undermine the already fragile coalition and could encourage some legislators to defect and turn their back on the government, leaving the outcome uncertain till the very end.

hg/ipj (Reuters, AFP)