PM claims economy ‘out of intensive care, out of hospital’

Greek Finance Minister meets international creditors over debt

GMT 15:09 2013 Sunday ,10 March

Arab Today, arab today Greek Finance Minister meets international creditors over debt

Greece has been told to sack 150,000 public sector workers by 2016
Athens - Arabstoday

Greece has been told to sack 150,000 public sector workers by 2016 Greece's Finance Minister was lined up for talks on Sunday with the country's international creditors, hours after the Greek reform team was hit by the resignation of two top officials. The meeting -- mainly focused on job cuts -- will determine whether Athens will claim a loan slice of €2.8bn ($3.6bn) due at the end of March.
Thorny issues that Greece still needs to address include shrinking the number of jobs in the public sector, speeding up privatisation plans and recapitalising four of its main banks.
"There are open issues, there are differences but the climate is good," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Mega television.
On Saturday, Greece's privatisation chief and the Finance Ministry general secretary both stepped down over an investigation into alleged breach of duty at the country's main power group PPC where both were previously members of the board.
The blow came as the troubled Greek privatisation drive was beginning to hit a stride after years of delays.
In January, the privatisation agency completed Greece's first public land international deal in 15 years with a 99-year lease of a plot on the popular tourist island of Corfu for €23m.
A month later, Greece managed to lure back Qatar's investment authority in a public tender for its top asset, the former Athens airport of Hellinikon.
In an interview with financial weekly Axia on Saturday, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had forecast a solid privatisation drive for 2013.
"We will meet this year's target of around €2.6bn. We might even exceed it," the PM said.
He added that the government was expecting binding offers for gas operator DEPA and gaming monopoly OPAP before summer and would also divest state oil refiner HELPE within the year.
A replacement to head the privatisation agency is to be nominated to parliament on Monday.
Under the bailout conditions adopted last year, Greece needs to cut public sector workers by 25,000 in 2013 and a total of 150,000 by the end of 2015.
Facing a sixth consecutive year of recession, the heavily-indebted country has been relying on international rescue packages to avoid bankruptcy.
A return to growth initially foreseen for 2012 is now not expected before 2014.
Since 2010, the EU and the IMF have committed €240bn overall in rescue loans to Greece.
The Prime Minister on Saturday also promised his recession-weary nation that there would be no more tightening of the belt beyond that already agreed with creditors.
"There will be no more austerity measures," Samaras said in a televised speech to his conservative party's political committee.
"And as soon as growth sets in, relief measures will slowly begin," Samaras said.
But he noted that Greece's ailing economy was "out of intensive care, not out of the hospital."

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