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Thu November 21, 2013
2014 Greece Budget To Contain No Austerity Measures
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 6:55 am
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The Greek parliament is considering a new budget today, and it does not include the wage cuts and tax hikes requested by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Those institutions loaned Greece billions in bailout and are demanding more austerity. But Greeks say they've suffered enough economic pain and warned that more could provoke unrest.
Joanna Kakissis reports from Athens.
JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: The EU and IMF could withhold the latest installment of bailout money - a little over a billion dollars. To get the money, they say Greece needs to cover a deficit of up $4 billion in the spending plan going to parliament today. The Greeks say the gap is only half that - and they can cover it with reforms to social security and tax collection.
Analyst Nick Malkoutzis says lenders do not want to spend extra money on Greece.
NICK MALKOUTZIS: They're driving a really hard bargain in terms of what fiscal targets Greece has for next year.
KAKISSIS: Many economists say there have been too many cuts and not enough reforms.
MALKOUTZIS: And really, the argument at the moment, certainly from the Greek side is that, give us more time and space to conduct these reforms and don't ask for more cuts from us because our economy has been in recession since 2008.
KAKISSIS: Since then, unemployment has more than tripled - it's now at more than 27 percent. The economy has shrunk by a quarter. Forty percent of Greeks say they have to borrow money to pay bills. And a recent survey showed that 60 percent of families in poor neighborhoods say they can't feed their kids.
So many are asking: Was it a bad decision to join the eurozone?
Malkoutzis says Greeks still think it was important for modernization.
MALKOUTZIS: To accept now that that may have been a wrong decision or that those parameters are changing is very difficult.
KAKISSIS: But Greeks are also asking if the painful road with the euro will actually lead to recovery - or just more pain.
For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Athens. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.