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Greece should get more time, aid: ECB member

BRUSSELS: Debt-laden Greece should get more time and more aid if necessary to put its financial house in order and remain in the euro zone, a member of the European Central Bank said in an interview published yesterday.
"It is preferable that Greece remains in the euro zone," Jorg Asmussen, a German ECB board member, told the Belgian economic daily l'Echo.
"If that means additional aid for one or two years more, that will be significantly less expensive than it leaving (the euro zone) or a default," he was quoted as saying.
The comments come ahead of a meeting on Monday in Brussels of the euro zone finance ministers, who are due to discuss releasing the latest aid tranche of 31.5 billion euros to Greece, which has been held back since June.
The ministers are not expected to decide to release the aid at their meeting tomorrow.
The euro zone is waiting for the latest report on Greece's finances from its 'troika' of creditors — the European Union, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund.
"We are in the process of completing the analysis of the Greek adjustment program," Asmussen said.
Greece has asked for an extra two years to bring its debt under control and stabilize public finances.
In an interview with the Sunday edition of the Die Welt daily, German President Joachim Gauck said that many Germans think that providing aid to Greece "is costing too much and that we, the Germans, are going to ruin ourselves as a result."
"No, we will absolutely not ruin ourselves. Not as long as we keep the Greeks inside the euro," he said.
Separately, Germany's Der Spiegel weekly reported yesterday that the troika has demanded from Athens a list of names of the 2,000 civil servants to be fired before the end of the year.
"The troika is expecting that some 2,000 civil servants will be fired before the end of the year. And it is no longer content with figures. It also wants the surnames and the names" of those to be let go, the daily wrote on its website citing a source close to the negotiations.
This past week the Greek Parliament narrowly passed the latest austerity package in the face of popular anger at more belt-tightening in a country with soaring unemployment that is facing a sixth year of recession.
Today, lawmakers are due to vote on the 2013 budget, another key test for the embattled Greek government.

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