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Greece's dark age of austerity

Thursday, April 06, 2017 - 01:54

Greece's biggest power utility Public Power Corporation, one of the assets earmarked for part-privatisation under the country's third bailout, is toiling under 2.6 billion euros of unpaid bills as poverty-stricken Greeks struggle to get by in Greece's eight-year economic crisis. Laura Frykberg reports

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The Argyros family, is on the frontline of Greece's debt crisis. Austerity in government, has meant austerity at home. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK BILL PAYER, KOSTAS ARGYROS SAYING: "We use light bulbs that are five watt or two watt, we are close to going blind. We turn on the water heater for five minutes, so that the bill is not high. We teach our children to adapt to this system - not to ask for things that the other kids have, right now we can't buy it." With a scarcity of work, bills are piling up. And they're not alone. More than 40 percent of Greeks are now behind on their utility bills. Higher than anywhere else in Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK BILL PAYER, OLGA ARGYROS SAYING: "When you live off very little money you can't pay the bills, that's the main thing. You can always find something to eat, but you can't pay the bills." Neither can the government. Since 2010 it's had three multi-billion dollar bailouts to stave off bankruptcy. It's next one could be agreed on Friday. In exchange for - more government cuts, including pensions, which many households rely on. Some says it could be worse though. As European lenders are more distracted than usual. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LCG SENIOR ANALYST, JASPER LAWLER, SAYING: "Angela Merkel really won't want Greece flaring up in the headlines as she is running for re-election in Germany." People here in Athens have more immediate concerns though. They're trying to re-finance their bills to Greece's biggest electric power company, PPC. Lenders want it to be partially privatised under the new debt deal But that could be difficult, over the past year, its overdue bills grew by nearly a billion euros to 2.6 billion.

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Greece's dark age of austerity

Thursday, April 06, 2017 - 01:54