International lenders ease austerity demands on Portugal

International lenders ease austerity demands on Portugal  Lisbon: Portugal's efforts to balance its accounts once again earned the approval of the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which agreed to give the Iberian nation more time to meet deficit-reduction targets.

Portuguese Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar made the announcement Friday, saying he was satisfied with the decision by the international lenders to give the country another year to come up with 4 billion euros (USD 5.2 billion) in spending cuts.

The approval by the so-called "troika" of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF will allow Portugal to receive its next 2-billion-euro tranche of loans, meaning that 90 percent of a bailout package approved in May 2011 would have been distributed.

Gaspar said Portugal will now be expected to bring its budget deficit down to 5.5 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 2013 - one percentage point higher than the previous target - 4 percent of GDP by 2014 - one-and-a-half percentage points higher than previously - and 2.5 percent of GDP by 2015.

IANS