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You're reading: Greece looking for more cuts

ATHENS, Greece — Greece has still to find up to €4 billion ($5 billion) worth of cuts to satisfy the demands of its international creditors, the country's finance minister said Tuesday.

The debt-ridden country has
promised to slash €11.5 billion ($14.1 billion) off its 2013-14 budget
in order to continue receiving emergency rescue loans from other
eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

“We are not there yet, we still have €3.5 billion to €4 billion to cover,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said.

Debt
inspectors from the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank
concluded a new round of austerity negotiations in Athens at the
weekend, and are set to return in early September to finalize the latest
round of cuts.

The cuts will be identified by the seven-week-old
coalition government as the country battles a fifth year of recession,
with unemployment nearing 24 percent, according to a recent government
estimate.

Last week, the three parties participating in the
coalition — the conservative New Democracy, the Socialist PASOK party
and the small Democratic Left party — overcame a dispute on whether some
of the cuts should be delayed. The three parties, averting a new
political crisis, agreed to back conservative Prime Minister Antonis
Samaras and not seek any delay in the new austerity program.

Greece
has also promised to reduce its 750,000-strong workforce in public
administration and the broader public sector by 150,000 by the end of
2015.

But Stournaras on Tuesday said the new government was
experiencing “difficulties in reaching that number” and said it had not
ruled out re-introducing a scheme to suspend public servants on reduced
pay before they reach retirement age.

The campaign was scrapped
earlier this year as being ineffective, and the previous government
insisted the target could be reached through attrition. The scheme was
first introduced last year to sidestep legal hurdles in firing civil
servants and to avoid aggravating unemployment any further.

Stournaras insisted Tuesday that the government has no plans to fire any of its workers.

The
Greek recession has worsened since the country was shut out of
long-term debt markets in 2010. But it has maintained a market presence
through regular treasury bill auctions.

On Tuesday, the government
raised €812 million ($1 billion) in a 26-week T-bill sale. The
country’s public debt management agency says the sale was 2.06 times
oversubscribed and carried a yield of 4.68 percent, slightly down on the
4.7 percent rate last month.

Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange,
meanwhile, closed up 1.95 percent at 620.46 following an announcement
by the government that it would take legislative action to speed up its
long-delayed privatization program.

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