Updated from Sunday, May 2
Updated to include emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers.
ATHENS ( TheStreet) -- Debt-plagued Greece has secured a 110 billion euro (or approximately $147 billion) rescue package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, the first such bailout of a eurozone nation.
In exchange for loans, Greece will institute tough austerity measures, including salary and pension cuts for public-sector employees and tax hikes, in an effort to reduce its crippling deficit.At an emergency meeting Sunday in Brussels, finance ministers from the 16 eurozone nations agreed to the rescue package. The plan still needs to win approval from some nation's parliaments, including Germany's. But Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the eurogroup, said Greece will get the first funds by May 19, when Athens has 8.5 billion euros worth of a 10-year bond maturing, according to an Associated Press report. Market participants had fretted this week that opposition in Germany to the package would hold up funds for Greece, the report noted. But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Chancellor Angela Merkel said parliamentary approval could be wrapped by Friday, the report added. "It is not an easy decision but there is no alternative," Schaeuble was quoted saying by the AP after the emergency meeting. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll Earlier Sunday, Greece's finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, announced the rescue plan's austerity measures in Athens and called upon the Greek people to make sacrifices in order to avoid default, according to an earlier Associated Press report. "We are called on today to make a basic choice. The choice is between collapse or salvation," Papaconstantinou was quoted as saying. Greece is hoping the cuts to public-sector salaries and pensions and tax increases will get the nation's budget deficit below the EU limit of 3% of GDP by 2014. Athens' deficit is currently 13.6% of GDP. The measures are also aimed at saving 30 billion euros through 2012. The salary cuts will not extend to the private sector, as some had feared, the AP noted. Greece's deputy finance minister said the rescue plan announced Sunday would include 10 billion euros in support for Greek banks that could be affected by the country's expected three-year recession, the AP reports.