Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Greek parliament approves new creditor-demanded cutbacks

Members of the communist-affiliated PAME union demonstrating in Athens this morning Thanassis Stavrakis  AP Members of the communist-affiliated PAME union demonstrating in Athens this morning Thanassis Stavrakis AP
Laurie Berry | 19 May, 2017, 06:43

Thursday night's rallies were marred by an outbreak of violence when unidentified assailants hurled firebombs at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier outside Parliament, setting alight one of the guard boxes manned by the elite presidential guard, or Evzones.

On Wednesday, at least 18,000 people demonstrated in Athens and Thessaloniki in union-sponsored protests against the bill.

Greek pensioners are seen on a mirror as they are taking part in an anti-austerity rally, in Athens, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, second right, stands with members of his government during a parliamentary session to vote more austerity measures as part of an agreement with worldwide bailout creditors, in Athens, Thursday, may 18, 2017.

With all opposition parties opposed to the measures, Tsipras is relying on his three-seat majority in the 300-member parliament.

Greece's transport network was thrown into chaos as a national general strike yesterday led to more than 150 flights being cancelled or rescheduled, while bus and ferry services ground to a halt.

Unless bailout funds are unlocked, Greece would once more struggle to meet a spike in debt repayments due this summer and face another brush with bankruptcy.

In Parliament, lawmakers were debating the measures that include additional pension cuts in 2019 and higher income taxes in 2020.

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In the meantime parliament is expected to vote in favour of the plan which would lower pensions and raise taxes by almost five billion euros, although compensation is planned for the most deprived along with subsidies for rents and medicine.

In return for the funds, successive governments have had to impose repeated waves of reforms, which have included steep tax hikes and salary and pension cuts.

Deputy Finance Minister George Houliarakis said the austerity measures are a "necessary compromise" between meeting creditors' demands and extending the uncertainty over the country's economic recovery. Greek workers have walked off the job across the country for a nat. So far, there are no declared dissenters.

Hours ahead of a vote on a new memorandum that is expected to bring more austerity to crisis-stricken Greece, demonstrators clashed with police at the doorsteps of the parliament.

His government was soon faced by default and a run on banks, and later in that year he signed up to a third bailout.

Tsipras defended the new austerity measures Thursday, playing up the prospect of alternative benefits and anti-poverty spending his government has promised - provided, however, it meets ambitious budgetary targets for years to come. The banking restrictions and limits on cash withdrawals remain.

They have likened the new reforms to those of a fourth bailout. The left-led coalition government agreed to the reforms as part of a deal with the country's global creditors to release funds from its next bailout instalment.

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