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Greek Lawmakers Set Budget Vote to Keep Aid on Course

Greek lawmakers will vote on the country’s 2014 budget shortly after midnight, a step toward securing additional aid under an international bailout.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters in Athens yesterday he expects the plan to be approved without surprises. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s coalition government controls 154 seats in the 300-seat legislature.

Under a rescue program from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, a primary surplus will qualify Greece for additional debt relief. They’ve been locked in talks since September, with the two sides disagreeing over fiscal measures needed for the country to achieve its 2014 budget projections.

The government’s surplus before interest costs will be at least 812 million euros ($1.1 billion) this year, rising to 2.96 billion euros in 2014, or 1.6 percent of gross domestic product, according to the budget, which sees GDP expanding 0.6 percent in 2014 after contracting 4 percent this year. Public debt is seen peaking at 176 percent of GDP this year.

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