Greek parliament approves economic reform plans

The Greek parliament has approved the government’s new economic reform plans aimed at getting another badly-needed bailout from the European Union. The lawmakers met in a late night session Friday that stretched well past midnight after hearing a personal appeal from prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

He told parliament he hopes Greece is at the end of a difficult battle. He compared the last several months of tough negotiations with the EU as a war in which his government has been fighting for the rights of the Greek people.

“We will make it,” Tsipras predicted. “We will make it not only to stay in Europe but also to live as equal partners with dignity and pride, seeking our rights in Europe and opening up a path for the other nations in Europe.”

The new Greek proposals include more pension cuts and tax hikes – demands that the EU finance ministers have been making of Greece and which voters rejected in last Sunday’s referendum. They also include Greek insistence for a debt restructuring by the International Monetary Fund.

Greece is asking the EU for $60 billion to be spread out over three years.

All 28 EU leaders will meet in an emergency summit Sunday to decide whether to accept the Greek government’s economic proposal. Some of those leaders have said this is absolutely Greece’s last chance to satisfy their demands. They have been frustrated by what has so far been Athens’ refusal to carry out more austerity.

Failure of Greece and the EU to reach a deal could lead to Greece being ousted from the euro zone.

French President Francois Hollande said Friday that the new Greek proposal is “serious and credible” and shows Athens’ determination to remain in the euro zone.

Greece defaulted on its $1.8 billion loan payment to the IMF last week when European finance ministers refused to extend an earlier bailout that would have allowed Greece to pay the IMF.

Greece’s economic crisis began in earnest  2009 when it was revealed that the former conservative government badly underreported the country’s debt. The revelations came during the same time the global recession began to worsen.

Withdrawal limits
The Greek government has demanded a debt restructuring from the International Monetary Fund since defaulting on a $1.8-billion loan payment to the IMF last week, when European finance ministers refused further financial support.

Greek banks are closed and withdrawals at cash machines are limited to just $67 (60 euro) a day. Many store shelves are bare and gas stations dry with no one knowing exactly what is going to happen next.

Greek voters rejected more austerity in a referendum last Sunday. While some Greeks say it is essential for the country to remain a part of Europe economically, “no” voters accused the EU creditors of humiliating and enslaving them.


(Greek parliament photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)