Greece To Vote On 2013 Budget; Protesters Gather


ATHENS, Greece (AP) â¿¿ Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pledged Sunday that the deep spending cuts in the 2013 budget lawmakers were to vote on, as well as others passed a few days earlier in a contentious two-year austerity bill, will be the last.

Speaking minutes before the vote, Samaras also pledged that funds from a vital ⿬31.5 billion installment of the country's bailout loans would be disbursed "on time." He has said in the past that without it, the country will run out of money to pay salaries and pensions on Friday.

"Just four days ago, we voted the most sweeping reforms ever. If we implement what we voted, the cuts we voted will be the last," Samaras said in Parliament. "Greece has done what it was asked to do and now is the time for the creditors to make good on their commitments."

However, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, whose country is the largest single contributor to Greece's bailout, said in a German newspaper interview published Sunday that international creditors won't be rushed when it comes to approving the loan disbursement.

"We all ... want to help Greece, but we won't be put under pressure," Schaeuble told the weekly newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

Schaeuble said the so-called troika of debt inspectors likely won't deliver their report on Greece's reform program by Monday, when the eurozone's finance ministers are to meet in Brussels. Once the report is submitted to the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund, it will have to be studied carefully, he said.

With the coalition government still holding a comfortable majority in the 300-member Parliament and all three coalition parties vowing to back the legislation, the 2013 budget is expected to pass. The separate bill of deep spending cuts and tax hikes for 2013-14 squeaked past with a narrow majority in the 300-member Parliament last Wednesday, following deep disagreements among the coalition members.

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