28 May 2011

PM unable to obtain wider backing for austerity measures

8:37 am on 28 May 2011

Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece failed on Friday to get opposition party leaders to back more austerity measures.

Conservative leader Antonis Samaras rejected the measures, saying they would ''flatten the Greek economy and destroy Greek society''.

Mr Papandreou had been trying to secure cross-party agreement for further cuts.

Also at the meeting were the leaders of the KKE communist party, the LAOS party and the Coalition of the Left. All said they would not accept the measures.

Mr Papandreou's government began a programme of privatisations on Thursday, but Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has said the privatisation plan needs to be more ambitious.

The BBC reports a payment of 12 billion euros ($17 billion) is due to be made to Greece on 29 June.

It is the fifth tranche of a loan package worth 110 billion euros from the EU and IMF and has not yet received final approval.

Under the terms of the bail-out, Greece is supposed to go to the financial markets to borrow 24 billion euros in 2012.

However, the BBC reports the chances of Greece being able to borrow money commercially next year are very small.

The IMF would like the EU to agree to make up any shortfall through a second bail-out package, but that could be unpopular among taxpayers in northern Europe.

Mr Juncker said Germany, Finland and the Netherlands may oppose further bailout payments.

Mr Papandreou has ruled out elections before they are due in 2013. His government has 156 MPs in parliament, which has 300 seats.