After bailout talks hit fresh delays, Greece says under pressure for new austerity measures

ATHENS, Greece – A Greek official says the country is under pressure from rescue creditors to impose new austerity measures to resolve an ongoing budget disagreement worth a reported 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion).

Negotiator Christos Protopapas, a former union leader and Socialist labour minister, said Thursday that international lenders remained at odds with Athens over deficit projections in the 2015 budget.

Protopapas attended two-day talks in Paris this week with representatives from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. The talks, however, failed to resolve the impasse.

“What they’re saying is that they don’t believe the budget will work and that we should follow the well-trodden road of cutting pensions and higher taxes,” he told private Skai television.

“Our response is that we won’t take new measures that will further burden the average citizen.”

Greece and the bailout lenders are negotiating a final, major package of cost-cutting reforms before eurozone loan installments end this year and the country switches to a so-called precautionary credit line.

The 2015 budget, which projects 2.9 per cent growth and a near-zero annual deficit, is being debated in parliament and due to be voted on Dec. 7.