Greek parliament to vote on reform proposals

Parliament to vote whether to give government the mandate to negotiate with creditors as Sunday's deadline approaches.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has appealed to his party's MPs to back a tough reform package in order to get a bailout deal from the country's creditors, ahead of a key vote in parliament over the issue.

    The Greek parliament is scheduled to vote on Friday to decide whether to give the government a mandate to negotiate with creditors for a cash-for-reforms deal.

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

    After the referendum, a financial storm brews in Greece

    After walking into a party meeting to applause, Tsipras rallied his Syriza MPs to throw their weight behind the new proposals ahead of the snap vote in the parliament, urging them to help keep Greece in the eurozone.

    "We are confronted with crucial decisions," a government official quoted Tspiras as saying, according to Reuters news agency.

    "We got a mandate to bring a better deal than the ultimatum that the eurogroup gave us, but certainly not given a mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone, he said.

    "We are all in this together."

    Five Syriza MP said they preferred Greece's exit from the Eurozone over a deal that would oblige the country to implement harsh austerity measures without gaining debt relief, Reuters reported. 

    The coalition government has 162 seats in the 300-seat parliament, and several opposition MPs have indicated that they would support the government's plans. 

    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 one that expired on June 30.

    Greek business owners fearful of the future

    It is unclear whether all the creditors would back the latest reforms package, which was similar to the terms Greece had rejected in a referendum that Tsipras had called in June.

    The heads of the European Commission, International Money Fund, European Central Bank and the eurozone are to discuss on Friday the Greek reform plan.

    Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a press conference that Jean-Claude Juncker, Christine Lagarde, Mario Draghi and Jeroen Dijsselbloem would discuss the plan in a conference call on Friday.

    A further vote in 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.

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

    Proposals submitted

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

    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.

    Counting the Cost: 'Austerity has practically destroyed Greece'

    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.

    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.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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