Greece eyes austerity in fresh EU bailout bid

Greece offers slew of tax hikes, pension cuts and spending curbs in return for three-year aid package worth $59bn.

    Greece has submitted a fresh proposal to the EU in a bid to secure a 53.5 billion euro ($59bn) rescue package to help cover its debts until 2018 and stave off bankruptcy.

    Greece on Thursday submitted an economic plan that included a slew of tax hikes, pension cuts and spending cuts in return for the three-year aid package.

    The Greek government will ask the country's parliament on Friday to authorise it to negotiate a list of "prior actions" it would take before any fresh aid funds could be distributed.

    Greek business owners fearful of the future

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spent Thursday with his cabinet drafting the last-ditch package of measures on which Greece's survival in the eurozone hinges.

    A further vote at  Greece's parliament would be needed to turn them into law if eurozone leaders agree at a summit on Sunday that the proposals are a basis for starting negotiations on a three-year loan and releasing some bridging funds to keep Greece afloat.

    Debt-stricken Greece's creditors have previously demanded pension cuts and tax reforms in return for a new rescue package.

    In its latest offer, Athens bowed to demands to phase out tax breaks for its islands and to increase taxes on shipping companies.

    The offer also includes defence spending cuts, a firm timetable for privatising state assets such as Piraeus port and regional airports, hikes in VAT for hotels and restaurants, and slashing a top-up payment for poorer pensioners.

    After the referendum, a financial storm brews in Greece

    European leaders gave Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras the Sunday deadline at an emergency summit on Tuesday, warning that failure to comply risked Greece's place in the euro.

    Greeks overwhelmingly voted in a referendum on Sunday to reject previous austerity demands from international creditors in exchange for a new aid programme to replace the one that expired on June 30.

    The cash-strapped country needs money to reopen its banks which have been closed for nearly two weeks, and eurozone leaders have warned that the European Central Bank will cut emergency funding if it does not reach a new deal.

    The new reform proposals will now be scrutinised by officials of Greece's EU-IMF creditors, before going before eurozone finance ministers on Saturday and a full summit of all 28 EU leaders on Sunday.

    Counting the Cost: 'Austerity has practically destroyed Greece'

    Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, reporting from Athens, said Greece had less than three days to determine if it could "stave off a financial catastrophe and the collapse of its banks".

    "Two key questions hang in the air this evening. The first is whether those austerity measures are deemed adequate by a reluctant and sceptical set of lenders in Brussels. The second of course is trust, and whether Greece can be taken on its word to implement reforms where it perhaps hasn't done so to the letter in the past," he said.

    Al Jazeera's Simon McGregor-Wood, who is also in Athens, said much of the euphoria that followed Sunday's referendum, in which the Greek people overwhelmingly voted against accepting the eurozone's most recent proposal, had disappeared.

    "It is replaced by real anxiety," he said.

    "Away from the political posturing, the Greek economy is grinding to a halt."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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