Greek PM Wants to Alter, Delay Austerity Plan

Posted July 6th, 2012 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says the country needs to alter some parts of its austerity spending plan so that it can try to emerge from its deep recession.

Mr. Samaras told parliament Friday his new coalition government will not seek to escape the pledges it made to the country's international creditors to impose widespread spending cuts and other economic reforms. But he said Greece needs more time beyond the 2014 target date now set to achieve a government budget surplus.

Greece has been forced to secure two international bailouts in the last two years, and its recession is now in its fifth year. But with two contentious national election campaigns in the last two months and widespread anger among Greeks about the demands from the country's lenders, the government has been slow to carry out the austerity plan.

Mr. Samaras acknowledged that the reforms have “gone off target.” More than one in five Greek workers are unemployed, and Mr. Samaras said any austerity measures that boost the jobless rate should be scrapped.

He said the country wants to remain in the 17-nation euro currency bloc, and he criticized some European leaders who have called for its ouster from the eurozone. The Greek leader vowed to speed up the sale of government assets — such as the national railway and parts of the Greek electric power utility — to private interests to help boost government revenues.