ATHENS - Two days before Greece's international creditors return to Athens to begin talks on keeping the nearly bankrupt country solvent, the new coalition government on Saturday highlighted the main points it plans to renegotiate with lenders, aiming to revoke certain taxes, suspend planned layoffs in the bloated public sector and extend by two years the deadline for imposing additional austerity measures.
A joint policy statement issued by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a conservative, and his coalition partners -- Evangelos Venizelos, chief of the socialist PASOK party, and Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the moderate Democratic Left party -- summarized the new government's chief aim as "tackling the crisis, opening the road to growth and revising the terms of the loan deal without putting at risk the country's European course or its continued presence in the eurozone."
The initiative is aimed at easing public opposition to two years of austerity, which led to big vote tallies in last Sunday's elections for parties opposed to the $170 billion bailout and obliged the more established parties to forge a tenuous coalition. But some of the goals set out in the document are unlikely to please Greece's creditors -- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund -- whose officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that there is only marginal room for maneuvering, with an extension of the deadline for meeting fiscal deficit targets the only likely concession.
Greece's blueprint also aims to ease the burden on taxpayers by ensuring that they pay no more than 25 percent of their income in overdue obligations. Party leaders also want to reduce the value-added tax on food to 13 percent from 23 percent.
NEW YORK TIMES