AP News

Too soon for tax relief, says Greek minister

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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