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Greece faces difficult years ahead: Finance Minister
Greece faces difficult years ahead: Finance Minister

New Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras says the country's recovery plan is "off-track" and Greece faces "difficult years ahead" as sensitive talks with EU-IMF creditors begin.

Mr Stournaras spoke just after the first meeting between EU-IMF auditors and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is eager to press the case that an exhausted Greece urgently needs a reprieve from creditor-mandated austerity.

The officials from the EU, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are in Athens to monitor Greece's progress in the implementation of the reforms agreed in return for the bailout agreed in March.

Mr Samaras, whose government is to be confirmed in power with a weekend confidence vote in parliament, told auditors he was determined to "speed up structural reforms", but his three-party coalition has made plain its desire to revisit the deal.

Mr Stournaras said the road ahead would be difficult.

"The program is in fact off-track in certain areas," Mr Stournaras said.

"Difficult years lie ahead, I see light at the end of the tunnel but patience is required."

Crisis-hit Athens is now drawing funds from a 130-billion-euro ($A160 billion) lifeline but Samaras and his allies want to renegotiate the agreement to avoid further job losses and emphasise growth rather than austerity.

"It is our decision to avert further sacrifices at all cost because Greeks cannot take any more," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Real FM radio.

The new administration will argue for an easing in salary and pension cuts.

Under the terms of its bailout, Greece must adopt further cuts worth 11.5 billion euros by 2013 and reduce the state payroll by 15,000 people in 2012.

The new government wants to soften the blow, mindful of rising anger in Greece after more than two years of austerity failed to restore the economy to health.

The West Australian

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