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Troika calls for Portugal to back continued austerity

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(LISBON) - International creditors called on Wednesday for all parties and citizens in Portugal to back austerity measures for "a few more years" after its financial bailout package ends in May.

"The troika have let it be known that it will be good to have a bigger consensus, not only with the PS (opposition Socialist Party) but also with the whole of Portuguese society," said Miguel Frasquilho of the ruling centre-right PSD, following a meeting with representatives from the creditor institutions.

Portugal has been living under the strict rules of a 78-billion-euro rescue programme agreed in May 2011 with the so-called troika of the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

In exchange for rescue loans, Portugal agreed to push through austerity measures and deep reforms that have sparked recession, pushed up unemployment -- and met with increasing resistance from unions and voters.

The bailout package is due to expire on May 17, but the government has warned that the unpopular measures will need to continue long after that date.

Portugal has yet to decide whether it will seek a safety net in the form of a "precautionary credit line" after the bail-out programme ends, or whether it will emulate Ireland, which made a "clean exit" from its bailout package in December.

Troika representatives arrived Wednesday in Lisbon to look at the country's accounts before it leaves the programme.


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