Wednesday, October 24 16:32:49
Greece's finance minister said today that his country had been given additional time by its international lenders to impose its austerity cuts, an assertion played down by leading EU officials.
European paymaster Germany said the EU would only decide on the matter after receiving a report on Greece's progress from the 'troika' of lenders -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
ECB President Mario Draghi said no final decision had been made.
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, however, said the delay has been agreed and that a new package of austerity measures would get a parliamentary vote next week.
After months of wrangling on a package of spending cuts and reforms, he said the near-bankrupt country had won additional concessions from its lenders and largely wrapped up talks on the package.
"Today, we obtained the extension," Yannis Stournaras told parliament, referring to being given an additional two years to hit bailout targets, something Athens has been lobbying for.
"All the scenarios that we are working with the (international lenders) are based on the assumption of an extension," he added.
An earlier Reuters report cited a draft agreement between Greece and the troika. It specified that Athens will have the four years through 2016 rather than 2014 to hit its budget deficit targets.
Speaking in Berlin, Draghi said: "The review is not yet finished. I understand progress has been made, but some parts need to be defined."
Stournaras said he would tell euro zone colleagues meeting on Thursday that the package was ready to be put to the Greek parliament next week. In the meantime, Greece was still seeking further concessions from its lenders on the 13.5 billion euro package. (C ) Reuters