Debt-crippled Greece's coalition government rushes to seal a new set of austerity measures to secure vital new bailout aid to avert default in November, as its 2011 fiscal deficit was revised upwards to 9.4 percent of GDP on Monday.
The Greek fiscal shortfall last year stood at 19.7 billion euros, three percentage points higher that previous estimates, still down from 10.7 percent in 2010 and 15.6 in 2009, when the debt crisis broke out, the country's Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) announced. Experts attributed the gap to the higher than anticipated recession.
Despite rounds of austerity measures implemented in the past two years, Greek debt in 2011 reached 355.7 billion euros, or 170.6 percent of GDP, according to the updated official figures. In 2009, it stood at 129.7 and in 2010 at 148.3 percent of GDP.
The aim under bailout deals clinched with international lenders since 2010, is a decrease to pre-crisis sustainable debt levels via a painful austerity and reform program.
In the short-term, the Greek government seeks to finalize in coming days a fresh 13.5 billion euro austerity package to unlock 31.5 billion euro bailout tranche by mid-November in time to stave off a disorderly bankruptcy and exit from the euro which could destabilize more European economies.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is due to hold a most probably final meeting on the issue with his two coalition partners on Tuesday, it was announced on Monday.
Athens needs to vote the measures through the Greek parliament by the next Euro Group meeting on November 12 which could give the green light for the disbursement of the tranche. Without it, Greece runs out of cash on November 16.
"Time runs out. If we wish to get the installment before cash runs out, we must speed up...People will get hungry, if we do not secure the tranche," Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras stressed, addressing the parliament's economic committee on Monday.
Shortly earlier, on Samaras' order, deputy Nikos Stavroyannis was expelled from the ruling conservative New Democracy party's parliamentary group, after an interview with a local daily on Sunday.
Stavroyannis said that he plans to vote against the new austerity package, because he believes that the planned fresh cuts on salaries, pensions and tax increases are unfair and will not resolve the crisis.
The three-party coalition now holds 177 seats in the 300-member assembly. According to local media reports, more deputies of the three parties supporting the government could follow on Stavroyannis' steps, amid increasing social reactions to the harsh policies. (1 euro=1.3 U.S. dollars)