Greek lawmakers pass painful reforms to attain fiscal targets
ATHENS – Greece’s parliament on early Monday passed a package of unpopular pension and tax reforms that the country’s leftist-led government hopes will persuade official creditors to unlock bailout cash.
The measures aim to ensure Greece will attain savings to meet an agreed 3.5 percent budget surplus target before interest payments in 2018, helping it to regain bond market access and render its debt load sustainable.
The vote was a test of the ruling coalition’s cohesion, given its wafer-thin majority of three lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament. All of the coalition’s 153 lawmakers voted in favour.
Athens wants to boost tax revenues and slash pension spending to reduce the drain on the budget, hoping impressed creditors will unlock aid. But Germany and the IMF remain deadlocked over the terms of country’s bailout plan.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government drew fire from the political opposition during the debate on grounds the pension cuts and tax hikes will prove recessionary, dealing another blow to a population fatigued by years of austerity.
“Mr. Prime Minister, you promised hope and turned it into despair,” said Fofi Gennimata, leader of the opposition PASOK socialists, who see the package as the bill for Tsipras’ failed push to roll back austerity in last year’s clash with lenders which set back the economy and triggered capital controls. -Reuters