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Business

Greek coalition reaches basic savings agreement

Greece's coalition government has reached a basic agreement on a new round of austerity measures for 2013-2014. It has thus moved a decisive step closer to unlocking fresh bailout funds from international creditors.

The coalition government in Greece announced on Thursday it had agreed on the fundamental points of a multi-billion-euro savings package needed to qualify from a fresh injection of cash from creditors.

"We have agreed on the main points, and we're now moving forward to the final negotiations," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (in the picture) told reporters in Athens.

He added that the troika had to yet to approve the plans, referring to Greece's three public creditors - the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

No time to waste

According to the government, the budget measures approved include 11.5 billion euros ($14.8 billion) in spending cuts and 2.0 billion euros in fresh tax revenue. The head of the moderate leftist party, Fotis Kouvelis, hastened to add, though, that Greece would seek to introduce a clause permitting milder cuts, if state revenues proved higher than anticipated.

The package, still to be finalized, is designed to qualify Greece to access 31.5 billion euros in fresh international loans, the latest installment of Greece's second rescue package.

Troika leaders are scheduled to return to Greece early next week, with the government in Athens hoping to sign off on all its austerity measures before eurozone finance ministers meet on October 8.

The spending cuts remain deeply unpopular among some people in Greece. On Wednesday, an estimated 50,000 people took to the streets of Athens in protest amid a 24-hour general strike.

hg / msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)