Greek parliament backs government's bailout plan

Parliament backing will allow PM Tsipras to negotiate his package of economic reforms with Greece's European creditors.

    Tsipras argued that his latest reform package was Greece's only chance to secure a bailout [EPA]
    Tsipras argued that his latest reform package was Greece's only chance to secure a bailout [EPA]

    Greek politicians have voted to support new austerity proposals to be presented to Greece's European creditors to save the country from financial collapse.

    The parliament approved a government motion by a majority vote late on Friday that will allow Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party to put his package of economic reforms to eurozone members in his negotiations for a third bailout.

    According to the official count, 251 politicians voted in favour of the proposals, 32 against and eight, including some members of Syriza, voted "present", a form of abstention indicating dissent from their party line. Nine politicians were absent.

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    Tsipras had earlier acknowledged to the parliament that the proposals, which include harsh austerity measures such as tax hikes and cuts to pension costs, were far from his party's pre-election promises.

    However, he said it was the only chance for Greece to win a much-needed bailout that will include measures to address the country's debt and provide adequate financing as part of three-year bailout package that Greece hopes to negotiate with its creditors.

    Al Jazeera's Simon McGregor-Wood, reporting from Athens, said selling the package to the Greek parliament could have been a tougher challenge for Tsipras than selling it to Greece's creditors.

    "To many of his party members, this deal looks like something they've already rejected," he said.

    Our correspondent said that while some creditors had described the package as Greece's "most substantial proposal to date," which providing some hope of a bailout, the mood outside of the Greek parliament was one of betrayal and anger.

    "People here are saying the latest proposal seems more draconian than the last one. To them it seems like a cruel illusion," he said.

    Sunday summit

    Friday's parliamentary vote will turn the reforms 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.

    The heads of the European Commission, International Money Fund, European Central Bank and the eurozone also spent Friday discussing the Greek reform plan.

    The new reform proposals will go before eurozone finance ministers on Saturday and a full EU summit of all 28 EU leaders on Sunday.

    Greece's latest offer includes a slew of tax hikes, pension cuts and spending cuts in return for the aid package.

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    Athens also 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.

    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.

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

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And AP


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