25 Dec 2009

Big budget cuts in Greece

10:35 am on 25 December 2009

The Greek parliament has voted to adopt big budget cuts designed to lower the country's high levels of debt.

Greece aims to shrink public debt to 9.1% of overall economic output next year, down from 12.7% this year.

To do this, it has outlined measures to cut public spending and boost revenue by cutting back on red tape.

Concerns about Greece's high level of debt have led the three main international credit ratings agencies to downgrade Greek government bonds.

Greece's public debt currently stands at €300 billion ($US428 billion).

Parliament adopted the budget by a large majority, with the 160 Socialist Pasok deputies voting for, and 139 opposition members against. One opposition member was absent.

Last week, Prime Minister George Papandreou warned that Greece was at risk of "sinking under its debts", unless it introduced spending cuts.

He outlined a number of measures to reduce debt levels, including a 10% cut in social security spending.

He also announced a 90% tax on the bonuses of senior bank workers.

Other proposals included a cut in defence spending, pay and hiring freezes for public sector workers, and the closure of a third of Greece's overseas tourism offices.