Friday, July 1, 2011

Greek parliament passes austerity plan

The Greek Parliament voted in favor of the austerity measures by a narrow margin

Source: Press TV

The Greek parliament has voted in favor of new austerity measures, in a move that is expected to infuriate thousands of demonstrators outside the parliament.

The austerity measures were approved on Wednesday with 155 votes in favor, 138 against and seven abstentions.

Greece's newly-approved austerity plan is worth some EUR 28 billion and includes a privatization program aimed at raising EUR 50 billion and further budget cuts as well as tax increases so that the government may receive further international financial assistance.

The passage of the bill means the European Union and the International Monetary Fund will release EUR 12 billion in aid to Greece -- the fifth tranche of Greece's EUR 110 billion bailout program.

A second vote will be held on Thursday which, if passed, allows the package to be implemented.

Violent clashes were reported outside parliament on Wednesday, where protesters earlier tried to prevent lawmakers from entering.

A 48-hour general strike is under way in protest at the proposed changes.

The EU ramped up pressure on the parliament ahead of the vote, stating Greece had no “plan B” other than to accept the austerity measures.

Inspectors from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank have been in Athens for nearly a month to see if the country is successfully implementing the promised reforms in return for the bailout.

Greece has a debt of over EUR 300 billion, which is worth more than 150 percent of its annual economic output.

Anti-government demonstrations in Greece have turned violent at times, leaving scores of protesters and security forces injured.

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