Samaras wins approval of Greek 2013 budget to secure aid
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras garnered the support of enough lawmakers from his three-party coalition to secure approval for the 2013 budget, a plan that aims to unlock bailout funds and avert a financial collapse that could drive the country from the euro.
A total of 167 lawmakers in the 300- strong chamber backed the budget, with 128 voting against and four saying only that they were “present,” parliament speaker Evangelos Meimarakis said in a comment. “We’ve taken the second decisive step with even greater unity,” Samaras said. “What we’ll see from now on is recovery and growth.” The 2013 fiscal plan, which forecasts a deficit of 5.2 percent of gross domestic product and a sixth year of contraction, is designed to regain the confidence of its euro- area and International Monetary Fund creditors. Euro-area finance ministers are due today to meet to discuss Greek developments as Samaras presses European Union leaders to release a 31.5 billion- euro ($ 40 billion) bailout tranche.
The budget sees Greece’s economy shrinking 4.5 percent next year after contracting 3.8 percent this year. General government debt will reach 189 percent of GDP next year, or 346.2 billion euros, from 176 percent this year, according to the document.