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Cash-strapped Greece puts government buildings on block

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Associated Press
Published:
ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's cash-strapped government detailed Monday its plans to sell 28 state-owned buildings on long-term lease, including tax offices, ministry buildings, and the main police headquarters in Athens.
A government privatization fund said it hoped to make (euro) 30 million ($39 million) annually from the lease agreements lasting 20-25 years.
Included on the list of buildings for sale are the main properties used by the ministries of justice, education and culture, 12 tax offices and the greater Athens police headquarters.
Potential investors should express their interest by April 19, according to a statement by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund.
Greece is under pressure to speed up its privatization program by its rescue lenders, the other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, who have been providing bailout funds since 2010 that are set to total (euro) 240 billion ($312 billion).
Inspectors from the rescue creditors are currently in Athens and were meeting late Monday with Greece's ministers of finance, labor, development, and the interior. They will meet Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Tuesday.
The debt inspectors are also pressing for faster implementation of public sector staff reductions, despite a national unemployment rate nearing 27 percent and the ongoing recession that started in late 2008.
Updated official data Monday showed Greece's economy shrank at a slightly slower pace than initially forecast in the last quarter of 2012, but still contracted by 6.4 percent during the year.
The statistical authority, Elstat, said Greece's economy shrank 5.7 percent in October-December 2012, compared to a year earlier -- slightly better than earlier estimates of 6 percent.
Greece's economy has contracted by more than a fifth since 2008, and is set to have shrunk by 25 percent before the country is expected to start recovering during the latter part of this year.

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