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Papandreou: No new austerity measures

THESSALONIKI | The Greek government is planning no new austerity measures as part of efforts to pull the country out of debt and might even exit international supervision earlier than expected, the prime minister said Sunday.

George Papandreou said Greece was on track to meet targets for reducing its deficit by nearly 40 percent this year.

“We will not need any new measures,” he said during a news conference a day after making his annual speech on the economy on the sidelines of a trade fair in northern Greece.

Mr. Papandreou also reiterated that Athens did not plan to restructure its debt — a move that he said would have been “catastrophic.”

In exchange for $140 billion in rescue loans over three years from the International Monetary Fund and some EU countries, Greece has implemented strict fiscal control, seeking to reduce the budget deficit from a stunning 13.6 percent of annual output in 2009 to 8.1 percent this year.

The tough austerity measures, which included salary cuts and tax increases, angered labor unions that have staged six general strikes this year and organized peaceful protests in Thessaloniki on Saturday.

But Mr. Papandreou pledged that successful implementation of his reform program would ease the pain. “The faster we proceed with our reforms, the sooner … we will be able to restore and increase salaries and pensions,” he said. “And that is our target.”


Berlusconi insists he will serve full term

ROME | Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday insisted his government will run its full term to 2013 and easily survive a confidence vote in the last week of September.

“We will go to the polls in three years because we have a majority to govern,” Mr. Berlusconi told a meeting of his party’s youth movement.

Mr. Berlusconi said he expected “not just a majority, but a great majority” of lawmakers to vote in favor of a five-point program for the rest of the term that he will present to parliament in the last week of September.

The confidence vote will be the major test of whether the government has the majority in parliament after months of political turmoil.

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