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Greek gov't unveils amended 2013 draft budget

11-01-2012 03:18 BJT

ATHENS, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Greek government unveiled on Wednesday an amended 2013 budget draft including part of the fresh austerity package aiming to slash deficits and overcome the crisis.

The announcement triggered strong reactions from trade unions which called for a new 48-hour general strike next week.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras submitted to parliament the draft budget which forecasts that Greecewill return to growth in 2014, after suffering from recession for a sixth consecutive year in 2013.

According to the revised prediction, the Greek GDPwill shrink by at least 4.5 percent next year, down from the 6.6 percent recorded this year, but far more than the 3.8 percent estimated a few months ago.

Public deficit is expected to drop to 5.2 percent in 2013 rather than 4.2 percent initially estimated.

Sovereign debt will climb to 346.2 billion euros (519.3 billion U.S. dollars) or 189.1 percent of GDP up from 182.5 percent predicted a few weeks ago in the initial draft presented, before eventually declining to approximately 120 percent at the end of the tough stability and reform program implemented since 2010.

Unemployment rate is expected to stand at approximately 22.8 percent in 2013, up from 22.4 percent estimated this year.

According to the draft which needs to be ratified by the assembly next week, some 9.4 billion euros spending cuts of the total 13.5 billion-euro austerity package for 2013-2014 which will be put to a separate vote by November 8, will be implemented next year.

The painful package is demanded by international creditors before a crucial Euro Group meeting on November 12 over the release of the next 31.5 billion euro aid tranche to Athens.

Without the further funding from European Unionand International Monetary Fund, Greece could financially collapse and exit the euro by the end of this year, as its cash reserves dry out on November 16.

However, objections from opposition parties, an increasing number of deputies backing the four-month ruling coalition and trade unions remain.

Critics of the budget draft and austerity policies who doubt the effectiveness of austerity in tackling the crisis, argue that the proposed measures will worsen the suffering of Greek peoples from recession.

The two umbrella unions of public and private sector employees ADEDY and GSEE which held a protest in central Athens on Wednesday evening, called for a new 48-hour nationwide general strike on November 6- 7 to coincide with the breakthrough parliamentary vote on the fresh austerity package.

Earlier on Tuesday the parliament approved with a narrow majority a privatization bill in a vote which showed widening divisions amongst conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his two centre-Left coalition partners. (1 euro= 1.3 U.S. dollars)

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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