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    Greek Finance Minister Says No New Taxes

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    The finance minister of Greece says the country should concentrate on cutting spending, rather than burdening citizens with more measures to increase revenues. The country wants to have a bailout program in place by February 19, 2012 - the national election deadline.

    Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Monday the country should focus on reducing spending, rather than taking more revenue raising measures.

    Venizelos says the public should not be burdened by waves of increased taxes that have stifled economic activity and deepened the recession.

    [Evangelos Venizelos, Greek Finance Minister]:
    "We cannot take new revenue raising measures and we should not take new revenue raising measures. We have to further reduce spending, but that is not enough. The issue is if we can change the entire framework in which we operate.“

    Greece is in talks with international lenders on a new 130-billion euro bailout package agreed in October to keep it afloat.

    The main opposition party says increased taxes are killing the economy, and has hinted it will re-negotiate the terms of the austerity package if elected in the next poll.

    Venizelos says negotiations with the international inspectors—the so called troika—were difficult but Greece cannot afford to hold elections until it wraps up the talks and finalizes the new bailout program.

    [Evangelos Venizelos, Greek Finance Minister]:
    "The negotiations are difficult and crucial, the country must take very significant decisions, and there must be no deviations, there must be no rift, either political or other."

    Greece is tentatively slated to hold elections on February 19, just a few weeks after the date by which the country hopes to wrap up talks on a bond swap scheme that is part of the bailout...