Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is planning to seek a two-year extension to the debt-ridden European state’s austerity plans, a report says. Samaras will suggest that the austerity plans be spread over four years instead of two in order to help the Greek economy return to growth, the financial Times reported on Wednesday. The Greek premier will announce his request during his meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande next week. Greece has promised to cut 11.5 billion euros off its 2013-14 budget in order to get bailout from other eurozone countries and the IMF.
The European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have presented Greece with two rescue packages in return for specific austerity measures, which include the cutting of public sector salaries and pensions, increasing taxes, and overhauling the pension system.This comes after the Greek statistical authority ELSTAT announced on Monday that the country’s economy has contracted 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2012 from the same period last year. The second quarter preliminary GDP estimate was based on seasonally unadjusted data and follows a 6.5-percent GDP decline in the previous quarter. Greek officials have repeatedly argued that the magnitude of the public spending cuts is pushing the country further into recession. Unemployment rate in crisis-struck Greece hit an all-time high of 23.1 percent in May with nearly 55 percent of Greeks, aged between 15 to 29, out of work. The country has been at the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis and is experiencing its fifth year of recession, caused by the harsh government-introduced austerity measures. The long-drawn-out eurozone debt crisis, which began in the country in late 2009 and reached Italy, Spain, and France last year, is viewed as a threat, not only to Europe, but also to many of the world’s more developed economies. TNP/JR