Greece Braces for 'Violent Modernization'


Greece reacted with a mix of resignation and outrage on Monday to a painful new austerity package from the government that newspaper editorials said would force a long-delayed "violent modernization" on the country.

"The time to pay the bill has come, the time of responsibility for all of us tackling this crisis must become the big opportunity to modernize our public life, even if we have to bleed," said financial daily Kerdos.

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Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government unveiled the plan to overhaul Greece’s debt-ridden economy on Sunday after talks with officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU).

It foresees a massive fiscal adjustment driven primarily by cuts in the country’s bloated public sector, which makes up roughly a third of the workforce.

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A public sector pay freeze was extended until 2014 and treasured holiday bonuses will be scrapped for many employees. Pensions will also be cut.

Centre-right newspaper Eleftheros Typos said the government was telling Greeks that they must die in order to live, describing the economic medicine it was doling out as "more harmful than the disease".

Ta Nea, a centrist daily, said the way of life Greeks had become accustomed to had come to an end on Sunday, while centre-left Eleftherotypia deemed the measures unfair because they would hit average wage earners and pensioners hardest.

Centre-left Ethnos said the austerity would mean "asphyxiation" for the Greek people and a "violent modernization" for the economy, which according to new government projections will contract by 4% this year and 2.6% in 2011.

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May 4, 2010