Greek ministers on Thursday approved a new round of austerity measures and a 50 billion euro ($73 billion) privatization drive that are essential for the debt-ridden country to continue receiving funds from its international bailout.
Two senior Cabinet officials who were at the meeting said the plans were to be submitted to Parliament later Thursday. They said a vote was expected before the end of the month.
"We have sought and we have found the fairest possible solution" in the new austerity cuts, Prime Minister George Papandreou said, according to a third Cabinet official who was reading from a text of the premier's remarks.
Papandreou had come under strong criticism from his own Socialist party deputies in recent days over the measures, which include tax hikes and spending cuts.
The new measures — budget cuts and a sell-off of state holdings in companies and real estate — are a precondition for Greece to receive the next part of its 110 billion euro ($161 billion) rescue package granted a year ago.
Without that 12 billion euro payment Greece, which remains stuck in recession and locked out of international bond markets, will default on its massive debts.
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