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March 27, 2023

Eurozone ministers discuss new funds for Greece, after austerity budget approved

Eurozone finance ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss whether to release new funds to indebted Greece, BBC informs.Athens hopes it has done enough to secure the next installment of bailout money, after passing a budget for 2013 which involves large spending cuts.Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker says there will be “no definitive decision” on Monday on the funds.Greek PM Antonis Samaras earlier warned that without the new loan, the country would run out of money within days.Mr Juncker has also responded to a long-awaited report on the pace of Greek reform by its three international creditors – the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank. “The basis is positive, because the Greeks have really delivered,” he said.Many in Greece will feel that they have given all they can – and that Europe must now stick to its side of the bargain and provide the rescue funds that this debt-stricken country so desperately needs, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens. Greek MPs approved the 2013 budget, which includes further cuts to pensions and wages, in a vote on Sunday night. The European Commission welcomed the approval. More than 10,000 people joined demonstrations outside Greece’s parliament to protest against the cuts.The budget was a pre-condition for Athens to be granted a 31.5bn euro EU/IMF loan necessary to stave off bankruptcy. Greece faces a repayment deadline for 5bn euros of debt on Friday. However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has indicated it is unlikely that the eurozone ministers will decide on the disbursement at Monday’s meeting.The funding will have to be approved first by some parliaments, including Germany’s.On Tuesday, Greece is to make an urgent bid to raise funds from the financial markets in case it does not get the tranche of bailout money.The budget – which contained many austerity measures which had already been passed by parliament – foresees a deepening of the worst recession of any country in modern history, our correspondent says.The national economy is expected to shrink next year by 4.5% and public debt is likely to rise to 189% of GDP, almost double Greece’s national output. This year, public debt stood at 175%. The head of Syriza, a left-wing opposition party, said the budget cuts would leave Greeks unable to afford essential goods this winter.

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