Greek deputy PM: fiscal reforms may be hard to pass

By @ibtimes on

The Greek government expects parliamentary backing for fresh austerity measures next week, Deputy Prime Minister Theodor Pangalos said in an interview published on Sunday.

Pangalos added, however, the government may have a hard time passing specific fiscal reform laws.

The Greek parliament is due to vote next week on measures that include 6.5 billion euros ($9.3 billion) of extra austerity steps for this year and savings of 22 billion euros for 2012-2015 to cut deficits and keep qualifying for EU/IMF aid.

Greek ministers and policymakers have urged parliament to pass the unpopular measures, which international lenders have demanded in return for staving off bankruptcy.

I think the package of short and medium-term measures with which we basically hope to establish the framework to undertake reforms will be approved without difficulty, Pangalos told Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

However, he said approval of specific laws to enact fiscal reforms and privatizations of public companies may be more difficult to achieve.

That's where we may have problems. I don't know whether some of our Members of Parliament will vote against it. It's possible, he said.

Still, Pangalos -- who after last week's cabinet reshuffle shares his deputy title with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos -- said he believes the conservative New Democracy opposition party will vote in favor of some of the measures.

Greece's ruling Socialist government, with 155 seats in a 300-strong parliament, needs approval for the austerity steps in order to receive a vital 12 billion euro EU/IMF loan tranche.

Athens accepted a package of 110 billion euros of EU/IMF loans in May 2010 but needs a second bailout of a similar size to meet its financial obligations until the end of 2014, when it hopes to return to capital markets for funding.

($1 = 0.698 Euros)

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by David Hulmes)

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