The Greek parliament approved, last night, a new set of austerity measures agreed between Alexis Tsipras’ government and international creditors. While the vote was held, about 10,000 people took part in the protests outside the Parliament, with a small group which broke away to confront the police. Hooded youths threw petrol bombs at officers who responded with tear gas. Dozens of masked youths broke out of the crowd to throw gasoline bombs at police guarding the accesses to the parliament building.
Reforms will start gradually from 2019 and will save 4.9 billion euros. Measures are expected to cut pensions by 18% from 2019 and a one-third reduction in non-taxable income from 2020. The austerity package lowers the income tax exception from 8,600 euros down to about 5,700 euros but increases benefits for low-income tenants, parents with children and subsidies for child care.
The measures, approved with 153 votes was also a test for the weak Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ coalition. The decision comes at a sensitive time, with public and private trade unions which have been on the sidelines during two days to protest against the measures that will make the Greece’s economic condition even more difficult. The country is still struggling with figures, published earlier this week, showing it had gone back into recession after seven years of crisis.
Deputy Finance Minister George Houliarakis said the austerity measures are a « necessary compromise » between meeting creditors’ demands and extending the uncertainty over the country’s economic recovery. The Eurogroup agreed, in April, the measures and hammered out in talks between the Greek government and experts from Greece’s lenders – the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Maria Elena Argano
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