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The Greek government today slashed GDP growth forecast for 2017 as it moved towards submitting new austerity measures, including a wider tax net, for approval by lawmakers. The government lowered the GDP growth target for the year to 1.8 per cent from a previous estimate of 2.7 per cent, the state news agency ANA reported. The latest estimate also falls short of the European Commission's projection of 2.1 per cent growth, set in February. The downward revision appeared in the government's budget proposal for 2017-2021, handed to parliament last night, along with a bill proposing a tighter budget, ANA said. Greece is seeking to meet the demands of creditors in an arduous bailout process, with a proposed new law projecting tax increases for 2019 and 2020, even for income just above the poverty level. That along with pension cuts -- for the 14th time since the beginning of the crisis -- is projected to earn 4.5 billion euros (USD 4.9 billion), according to ANA. Part of a July 2015 bailout deal with the EU and IMF to provide debt relief for the country, the new proposals are set for adoption Thursday night, according to the parliamentary officials. Lagging in the polls for being seen as caving to creditor demands, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will need full backing from his small majority of 153 out of 300 seats in parliament. The right-wing opposition has said it will vote against the programme. During negotiations with creditors, Tsipras managed to secure some measures against poverty, such as cafeterias to serve free meals, day care and rent subsidies. But the country's main unions called for a national general strike Wednesday. Tsipras had pledged his government would not implement new austerity measures without debt reduction in exchange. The question has served as a point of contention between the IMF and Berlin for months. In his calls for substantial debt relief, Tsipras faces resistence from Germany, where additional concessions are unpopular with an electorate called to a general election in September. According to sources familiar with the matter, the IMF and eurozone countries are close to reaching a compromise, which would clear the way for a global agreement allowing Greece to return to bond markets in 2018.
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