Greek parliament passes more deep spending cuts, thousands protest

Greece’s parliament has passed another package of deep spending cuts and tax increases, plans that sent tens of thousands of Greeks protesting in the streets of Athens.

The lawmakers approved the measure just after midnight local time Thursday. It will increase some taxes and slash spending by another $17 billion, including government benefits and pensions.

The European Union says the spending cuts are necessary for Greece to get another installment of a multi-billion-dollar bailout and avoid running out of money.

While the lawmakers debated the measure inside parliament, more than 80 000 protesters fought with riot police outside parliament. Protesters threw firebombs at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Greeks are angry at the idea of having to endure more cuts, saying they have suffered enough with the country in the third year of a deep recession.

Greek workers held a two-day general strike against the proposed cuts. Train and ferry service was shut down, flights were canceled and schools and government offices closed.

Elsewhere in Europe, the European Union forecast a much sharper economic slowdown on the continent than previously had been predicted. The European Commission said euro zone growth in 2013 will come in at just 0.1 percent — down from the 1 percent earlier expected. The commission said gross domestic product across the 17-nation currency area will shrink to 0.4 percent in 2012.


(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)