Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou efforts to impose more austerity measures on his already-beleaguered nation struck a roadblock when key government figure said they would not back any further spending cuts or tax hikes.
Antonis Samaras, head of the principal Conservative opposition party, New Democracy – who has previously called for Athens to renegotiate the terms of its 110-billion euro bailout from the European Union – rejected Papandreou’s proposal for an additional 6-billion euros in austerity measures designed to cut Greece’s massive budget deficit.
To this demonstrably mistaken recipe, I will not agree, Samaras said.
Samaras has also warned that more tax increases would only sink Greece deeper into recession.
“What is needed is a creative shock [to the economy] through the reduction of taxes,” he told Greek media.
“We say yes to privatizations but no to measures of fiscal panic. When the sum total is a mistake, a few positives do not offer a solution.”
Papandreou’s failure to achieve a consensus on the budget may endanger the next tranche of the bailout --- 12-billion euros due in June – and further preclude any talks of a second bailout, should that necessity arise.
Greece’s left-wing and Communist parties are particularly hostile to Papandreou’s austerity measures.
Aleka Papariga, the general secretary of the Communist Party (KKE), refused to even meet with the Prime Minister, while leading leftist Alexis Tsipras, president of the Synaspismos political party and head of SYRIZA parliamentary group, called the reform package “criminal” and called for early elections.
With a budget deficit is about 10 percent of GDP, Greece has already commenced a sale of about 50-billion euros in state-owned assets in order to try to reduce that figure down to 7.5 percent this year.
Officials at the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as European government ministers are increasingly fearful that Greece will not only fail to meet its consolidation targets but will default on its debts -- potentially creating another catastrophe for the euro zone.
EU and IMF officials have beseeched Greece to put aside its political disagreements in the face of a mounting financial crisis.
According to reports, the insurance of Greek debt jumped on Tuesday, suggesting a very good (71 percent) chance of default within five years.