Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Greece piles on austerity

"ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece targeted civil servants, the rich and the church Wednesday in a sweeping new 4.8 billion euro (4.3 billion pounds) austerity program designed to secure European help to tackle its crippling debt burden.The European Union praised Greece's third savings package in as many months and said the country could count on European solidarity.But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose backing for any European safety net for Greek borrowing would be vital, stopped short of any commitment to financial support.French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said Greece did not need aid at the moment but Europe would be able to provide it if a call for help came.The government said the public sector pay cuts, pensions freeze and tax increases would save the equivalent of 2 percent of gross domestic product on top of existing plans to reduce this year's budget deficit to 8.7 percent of GDP from 12.7 percent in 2009."

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