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Too soon for tax relief, says Greek minister

No tax relief till budget balanced, says Greek finance minister

Associated Press
Too soon for tax relief, says Greek minister

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Greek state hospital staff take part in a protest outside the health ministry in central Athens, on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. Hundreds of state health workers took part in the rally to protest planned mandatory public sector employee transfers and suspensions as part of the government's harsh austerity drive. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's finance minister says the government cannot ease austerity measures until the country balances its budget, and cautioned that bailout money would only fully cover public expenses until July next year.

Yannis Stournaras on Wednesday rejected calls from lawmakers backing the coalition government to reduce taxes on heating oil before the winter.

The minister said Greece was on target to achieve this year a primary budget surplus — when revenues exceed spending before factoring interest payments on loans. Such a surplus is a condition for receiving additional bailout support.

Stournaras made the remarks ahead of an inspection by international debt inspectors this month and an annual speech by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras this weekend on the state of the economy.

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