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Greece MPs approve reform bill ahead of Eurogroup meeting

The Greek parliament has approved a bill involving a series of economic reforms demanded by the country’s international creditors to release a sub-tranche of financial aid to the debt-ridden country.

In a voting session early on Friday, a majority of Greek lawmakers in the 300-seat legislature endorsed the bill, which modified earlier legislation requiring Athens to overhaul the country’s struggling pensions system and scrap tax breaks for farmers, among other things.

The modifications were not specified in media reports.

The development comes ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on Monday, when eurozone finance ministers will decide whether Athens qualifies for fresh bailout funds.

Bailouts, reforms and public anger

The ministers are expected to unlock EUR 2 billion in aid, a sub-installment of an initial EUR 26-billion tranche as part of the July bailout deal with Athens.

Struggling with a huge amount of debt, Greece signed in July a deal with the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – Greece’s troika of international lenders – to receive an EUR 86-billion (USD 96-billion) bailout in exchange for fresh austerity reforms.

Greek pensioners take part in a rally in front of the Greek parliament in Athens to protest against a new wave of austerity measures demanded in return for international bailouts, November 4, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

 

Greece had received two bailout packages – one in 2010 and another in 2012 – worth a total of EUR 240 billion (USD 272 billion) from its creditors in return for implementing harsh austerity measures. An economic crisis plagued Greece in 2009.

On October 21, Greece and its international creditors held talks in Athens on the country’s progress in implementing the tough economic reforms.

Speaking at a press briefing in Brussels on the same day, European Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue Valdis Dombrovskis hinted that a further EUR 2-billion package could be underway for Greece soon.

The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his left-wing Syriza Party, which came to power in January, had promised to end the Greek people’s economic sufferings caused by the international bailout program.

However, Tsipras bowed to the European pressure and finally accepted the daunting reforms demanded by the creditors to keep the debt-ridden country afloat.

The new set of austerity reforms are set to trigger more anger among the country’s pensioners and workers’ unions.

The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) has called a general strike for November 12, the first such protest against the austerity measures adopted by the Tsipras government.

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