20 Nov 2011

New Greek govt looking to halve deficit

10:10 am on 20 November 2011

The new government in Greece has submitted its plans for next year's budget, promising to almost halve the deficit.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos predicted the deficit would fall from 9% of GDP this year to 5.4% in 2012 due to a write-off of debt held by banks.

The cut, of up to 50% of Greece's debt held by commercial banks, is part of the eurozone's latest bailout deal.

Mr Venizelos said banks would be given different options over how to take part in the debt deal.

The budget is being proposed by a new coalition government headed by former central bank head Lucas Papademos.

Passing it is required in order to keep receiving EU bailout funds under an agreement reached in October.

The BBC reports Greece has been relying on international bailout funds since 2010.

Mr Papademos said the EU deal made Greece's national debt "totally sustainable".

Excluding interest payments, the budget predicts Greece would post a primary surplus in 2012 of 1.1%.

The government also said it did not need to implement any further austerity measures to achieve the deficit reductions.

The latest round of cuts was introduced in October and includes slashing pensions, wages and jobs across the public sector and raising taxes.

The measures have had a severe impact on the economy. The BBC reports the economy is expected to shrink by a total of 5.5% this year and 2.8% next year.