Greek senate passes austerity measures amid protests

May 23, 2016, 2:39 AM EDT
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
(Source: matthew_tsimitak/flickr)

Ahead of a crucial Eurozone meeting, which is expected to result in the release of much-needed bailout funds for Greece, the country’s parliament approved a package of budget cuts and tax hikes as demonstrators took to streets to protest against the unpopular legislation. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the new laws reflect Greece’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations and hoped that the move will secure bailout funds from Eurozone finance ministers.

The leftist Syriza government, which introduced a slew of pension and inform tax reforms earlier this month, passed new austerity measures, 153 votes to 145, writes the BBC. One of Syriza’s lawmakers, Vassiliki Katrivanou, voted against setting up of a state privatization fund.

“Employment is punished, property is prosecuted," said Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of the New Democracy conservative opposition party. He added that the reforms will affect all Greek citizens, who are already gripped by a sense of “despondency.”

The Greek economy, which has contracted by more than 25 percent since 2009 debt crisis, is unlikely to recover under high taxes that repulse investment, notes The Guardian. As a result, there is a “high degree of skepticism” about whether the country will be able to meet its fiscal targets.

Despite the new legislation, the release of bailout funds will be complicated because of the differences between the I.M.F. and Eurozone governments over the scale and timing of debt relief, reports The Wall Street Journal

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