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Greece passes spending cuts and tax hikes in order to unlock billions in bailout funds

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici hailed the deal.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

GREEK LAWMAKERS HAVE adopted another batch of controversial spending cuts and tax hikes, two days before a crunch eurozone meeting expected to unlock the next tranche of much-needed bailout funds for the debt-ridden nation.

The 7,000-page bill that raises the sales tax cap and introduces a contingency mechanism to slash spending further in case of budget overruns was passed thanks to the Syriza-led coalition government’s slim majority in the 300-seat parliament, according to an AFP count.

All 153 of the coalition’s MPs voted in favour, while outside the parliament building in Athens more than 10,000 people protested against the unpopular reforms.

Syriza MP Vassiliki Katrivanou, however, voted against several of the bill’s articles and later resigned from the party, citing a “deep political and existential impasse”.

“We (Syriza) implement measures and policies that are against the core of our values and also of our politics but I cannot think of any other trustworthy alternative. That’s why I resign,” she wrote on Facebook, handing her seat back to the party.

Greece Bailout Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, bottom, addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Athens. Source: YORGOS KARAHALIS

She had voted for the bill overall but against the articles calling for the contingency mechanism and the creation of a state privatisation fund.

The so-called contingency mechanism, labelled “the cutter” by Greek media and designed to cut spending if the country fails to meet fiscal targets in 2018, is of chief interest to Greece’s international creditors.

“European leaders get the message that Greece is sticking to its promises. Now, it’s their turn,” Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said ahead of the vote.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici hailed the deal.

“A key step has been taken… towards the conclusion of the first stage of the Greek programme.”

Greece urgently needs the next tranche of bailout money to repay big loans to the European Central Bank (ECB) and IMF in July, and has already fallen behind in paying for everyday government duties and public sector wages.

- © AFP, 2016

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Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, bottom, addresses lawmakers during a parliamentary session in Athens

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