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Greek government secures €2bn property tax ahead of EU-IMF showdown

The Troika are in town today, the day after massive protests greeted the passage of a new property tax through parliament.

Image: Michael Sohn/AP

THE GREEK PARLIAMENT voted last night to introduce a massively unpopular property tax, the government’s latest attempt at securing the next round of bailout funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The tax is tipped to raise around €2bn this year alone – though it remains unclear whether the country’s struggling taxpayers will be able to afford it.

Papandreou – whose parliamentary majority has been on a knife-edge for several months – won the vote by 154 votes to 143. All of the deputies from Papandreou’s socialist party supported the bill.

The late night vote followed a joint press conference between Greece’s prime minister George Papandreou and Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, who acknowledged that the new drive for austerity was going to be difficult on the public.

Heavy protests continued outside the parliament buildings while the vote was proceeding. Tear gas was used to disperse protesters in the central Syntagma Square.

Last night’s vote was seen as something of an acid test for Papandreou, whose government will have to pass a series of similarly contentious bills in the coming weeks in order to keep the bailout programme on track.

Public opposition to the measures had begun eariler in the day, when – ironically – tax collectors talked off the job in opposition to Troika-backed pay cuts, alongside subway and bus drivers.

That action will increase today, when the entirety of the country’s public transport workers go on strike.

Last night’s vote comes ahead of the visit of delegations from the EU and IMF, who will begin a final appraisal to see whether the next €8bn tranche of bailout loans should be made available to the government.

Without those loans, the government is set to run out of cash within weeks – forcing it to default on its loans, and almost certainly causing investors to dump any European investments.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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