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New austerity measures adopted

The Greek Parliament adopted on Thursday night a reduction of pensions and tax increases demanded by creditors to Athens. These new austerity measures are expected to allow the payment of a new tranche of aid to the country, who also hopes to be a debt relief.

The main sections of the act that include new cuts in pensions and tax increases, have been approved by the small majority of the government coalition. One hundred and fifty-three deputies of the left, Syriza ofAlexis Tsipras and the small party sovereigntist Anel have said “yes”. But on the 281 deputies present, 128 voted against it.

In contrast, a large majority of mps from all parties, of the right of New Democracy in the communist KKE voted in favor of two articles of the law on the abolition of tax benefits of members and the reduction of the VAT for agricultural equipment from 24% to 13%.

The 17 members of the neo-nazi party of golden Dawn were not present at the parliamentary debate. Following a parliamentary decision, they had been excluded, after one of their members was harassed Tuesday in the hall of the assembly, a deputy of the right.

Athens keeps its promises

The Greek government dominated by Syriza (radical left, anti-austerity) expressed the hope that the adoption of these measures, four days before a meeting of finance ministers of the euro area in Brussels, will convince the creditors, EU and IMF, that Athens can get a slice of 7.5 billion euros in aid and a new debt relief.

This new tranche of aid should in particular be used to repay four billion euros to the ECB on 20 July and two billion to private investors.

The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, said shortly after the adoption of the draft law, that Athens had to fulfil its commitments on reforms and that the country was now looking to the international creditors that they will hold their own on the question of the debt. “Has their turn to honour their commitments, as we have done”, he launched.

“We expect the Eurogroup meeting, which will take place on Monday, a decision, that we deserve, on a debt relief, which will correspond to the sacrifices of the Greek people”, he estimated. The huge Greek public debt reached 179% of GDP.
Admitting that the new measures are “difficult”, however, he hoped that they would contribute “to the stability of the country and the recovery”.

Savings of $ 4.9 billion

The new austerity measures include savings of 4.9 billion euros. They must be applied in the years following the end of the current plan of assistance (2015-2018), which is between 2019 and 2021, in the framework of the budget of the medium term discussed since Monday in Parliament.

The new law also includes compensation measures for the poor, such as aid on rent and drugs.

While Greece is being subjected to an austerity strict since the outbreak of the debt crisis in 2010, it is still struggling to emerge from recession. The GDP contracted by 0.5% year on year in the first quarter, after a zero growth in 2016.

In the early evening, more than 12’000 protesters, including the majority of the union communist Pame, gathered in front of Parliament with banners hit the words “Non-assistance plans! No to austerity!”.

Skirmishes occurred between police and small groups of individuals in balaclavas throwing Molotov cocktails. The police fired tear gas to disperse them.
(afp/nxp)

Created: 18.05.2017, 23h53

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