Greece on strike standstill as debt storm rages

EU,IMF and ECB began an audit of finances

GMT 17:37 2011 Wednesday ,11 May

Arab Today, arab today EU,IMF and ECB began an audit of finances

The European and the Greek flags fly above the ancient temple of Parthenon in Athens .

The European and the Greek flags fly above the ancient temple of Parthenon in Athens . Greece came to a standstill on Wednesday as a general strike took effect against new austerity measures by a government seeking to get a new package of help and avoid a damaging debt overhaul.The strike, the second this year called by the country's main unions, paralysed maritime and intercity train traffic, shut down state services and temporarily halted flights through the country, respective operators said.
A four-hour stoppage by air traffic controllers from 0900 to 1300 GMT also caused the two main Greek operators, Olympic and Aegean, to scrap or reschedule some four dozen flights at the start of the busy tourist season.
Separate street protests by unions are scheduled later in the day against a new wave of cutbacks expected from the Socialist government which is struggling to limit slippage on tough austerity targets during a deep recession.
The mobilisation is held while experts from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank (ECB) are conducting in Athens a scheduled audit of finances and reforms in Greece to determine if it merits a critical new slice of funding from a bailout package agreed last year.

Greece last year pledged to put its economy in order after taking a 110-billion-euro ($158-billion) loan from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to avert insolvency.
But despite a huge effort in 2010, it eventually overshot its deficit reduction goals because the economy shrank faster than expected.
Athens' overall debt has exploded to 340 billion euros, leading to mounting speculation -- even from Greek officials -- that it will need alternative options to keep up with repayments when the EU-IMF loan runs out in 2013.
Senior EU and Greek officials have denied that any debt restructuring is on the agenda, although eurozone officials have begun to admit that Greece is likely to need more aid in some form.

At the weekend the head of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers Jean-Claude Juncker said that "we think that Greece does need a further adjustment programme".
And an EU source told AFP on Monday that eurozone ministers were considering extra help for next year which would be in exchange of new budget constraints from Greece.
With Greece unlikely to be able to raise money on financial markets next year as initially planned, there has been increasing speculation it will need another 60 billion euros.
European Union Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, who is the top EU official behind bailout negotiations, said a decision on further aid is a few weeks away pending the result of the audit.

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