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Greece pledges 2012 budget surplus

Greece's finance minister has promised to stick with his plan for the country to generate more revenues in 2012 than it spends, before paying off interest on debts.

Evengalos Venizelos's target of achieving a primary budget surplus in 2012 comes despite the ongoing recession in the crisis-hit country. Greece's economy is expected to contract by 5.5% this year.

Mr Venizelos said the 2012 target is vital for Greece to avoid international "blackmail and humiliation".

Greece is struggling to meet its cost-cutting targets to ensure continued rescue funding from European countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Greek government must still live up to its commitment to achieve its 2011 budget deficit goal of 7.6% of gross domestic product.

When it became obvious earlier this month that there was a more than 2 billion euro (£1.7 billion) shortfall in the budget, Greece's creditors - the eurozone member countries, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF - threatened to withhold the sixth instalment of a 110 billion euro (£96 billion) rescue package agreed upon in May 2010.

Without the instalment, worth 8 billion euro (£7 billion), Greece faces defaulting on its debts by mid-October.

A review by officials from the IMF, ECB and European Commission, collectively known as the "troika", was suspended earlier this month amid talk of missed targets.

The troika leaders had been due to return to the country this week but have stayed away and will hold a crucial teleconference with Mr Venizelos on Monday afternoon instead.

Prime Minister George Papandreou, who cancelled a scheduled trip to Washington and New York on Saturday to remain in Athens for a "critical week", has called a government meeting for after the call.


From Belfast Telegraph