Greek Parliament approves austerity budget for 2013
Athens, Greece (4E) – The Greek government on Monday approved the budget for 2013 comprised of additional spending cuts and tax increases, a move seen to raise the country’s chances of securing fresh round of financing from international lenders.
Greece’s parliament voted 167-128 to pass the budget, a pre-condition set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to grant Athens a loan worth 31.5bn euros ($40bn) to help the country avoid bankruptcy.
Just last week, lawmakers approved new austerity measures of tax hikes and pension cuts.
For the second time in a week, thousands gathered outside Parliament to protest the austerity measures. An estimated 20,000 people joined the protest.
During his address to Parliament before voting proceedings began, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said the spending cuts would be the final one and appealed for support from the debt-ravaged country’s creditors — the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission.
Euro zone finance ministers are scheduled to meet after the vote while Samaras will head to Brussels for a series of meetings.
Alexis Tsipras, leader of the opposition party Syriza, warned that the budget cuts would make it difficult for Greeks to afford essential goods needed for the winter season.
Tsipras accused Greece’s creditors of not living up to their commitment to release financing and proposed that Greece’s debt be written off and all approved austerity measures annulled.