ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's finance minister says an unpopular austerity tax will be extended for "as long as needed" to keep the budget deficit within limits set by bailout lenders.
The tax, known as the solidarity surcharge, typically added several thousand euros on middle-income households' annual tax bills.
The levy was due to end next year, but Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told private Skai radio Wednesday it would be imposed until improvements in Greece's public finances become "permanent and sustainable."
Protests, meanwhile, continued against a new austerity deal reached with bailout lenders this month. Pharmacies around most of the country closed in protest at new licensing rules. And in central Athens, riot police forcibly removed protesting cleaning staff affected by recent state job cuts from inside the Finance Ministry.