Greek trade unions vowed on Wednesday to bring the country to a halt next week after agreeing a two-day general strike in protest at the latest round of welfare and wages cuts.
The strike call came after the government outlined a series of austerity measures in its revised 2013 budget that predicts a sixth year of contraction and an escalation in its debt-to-GDP ratio to 167%. The prime minister, Antonis Samaras, said negotiations with the major lenders were concluded and it was time for MPs to vote through measures to secure €31bn (£24bn) of fresh loans.
The €13.5bn of cuts for 2013-14 include a two-year increase in the retirement age from the current average of 65, salary and pension cuts, and another round of tax increases, including the levy on interest from bank deposits, up from 10% to 15%. The vast majority of measures are to be implemented in 2013 and include a €4.6bn cut in pensions and a €1.2bn reduction in salaries.