Greece's parliament has approved a new package of austerity measures needed to release the next instalment of its multi-billion-dollar bailout, as angry demonstrators protested outside parliament against the new round of austerity. The measures, which entail $5.4bn in cuts to be implemented in 2019 and 2020, were backed late on Thursday by all 153 members of parliament in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' ruling coalition after a fiery debate. The legislation was backed by all 153 deputies in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' left-led coalition. All 128 opposition lawmakers present in the 300-member parliament stood against the measures in a vote just before midnight.
Greece has reached a preliminary deal with its creditors that should pave the way for long-awaited debt relief talks, the Greek finance minister said Tuesday. “The negotiations are concluded,” Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters, according to state agency ANA. After overnight talks, Tsakalotos said a “preliminary technical agreement” had been achieved ahead of a May 22 meeting of eurozone finance ministers, which is required to approve the deal. Talks on the deal, which includes labour and energy reforms as well as pension cuts and tax rises, had dragged on for half a year mainly due to a rift between the European Union and the International Monetary Fund over fiscal targets.
Greece's parliament on Wednesday voted to open an investigation into alleged health scandals going back two decades, involving bribes and inflated prices for medical equipment and medicine. A broad majority of 187 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament approved a government proposal to look into suspected mismanagement between 1997 and 2014. "Everything must be investigated... to clear up whether the public interest was upheld," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the chamber. For years, public (funds) were pillaged, hurting social security funds and benefiting powerful interests," the PM said.
Euro zone officials on Tuesday said they had approved €2.8 billion for Greece from its huge third bailout after the country delivered the needed reforms. After the latest disbursement approved by the European Stability Mechanism, Greece will have received €31.7 billion of the €86 billion bailout granted in July 2015, its third since being engulfed by debt in 2010.
Greece has completed new economic reforms to receive the latest tranche from its 86 billion euro bailout fund. Euro zone ministers gave Athens a positive review of its reforms while withholding part of a new loan payment. They disbursed a €1.1 billion loan but postponed its decision on a further €1.7 billion payout to later in October.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not join the Greek bailout program but will accept a special role as advisory status with limited powers, according to Reuters’ sources. “A special advisory status with limited powers that keeps IMF at the table”, looks like the most possible scenario, Reuters reporting two senior sources.
Greek government is facing public discontent as it prepares to approve a new austerity measures and to proceed with a controversial new round of privatisations to secure more cash from its creditors. Tsipras government presented on Monday its 2017 draft budget to parliament, projecting an economic growth of 2.7% after eight years of recession from a 0.3 percent contraction this year.
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