Greek MPs pass austerity bill

Parliament approves controversial budget cuts intended to ease the debt crisis.

    Greece's parliament voted a day after violent protests left three bank workers dead [Reuters]

    The new taxes and government spending cuts have been demanded by the IMF and other European countries before debt-ridden Greece can get the $146bn bailout package of loans to keep it from defaulting.

    'Avoid bankruptcy'

    Ahead of the vote, the Greek prime minister said the measures were the only way to avoid bankruptcy.

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    "The situation today is simple - either we vote and implement the deal or we condemn the country to bankruptcy," Prime Minister George Papandreou told parliament.

    Papandreou has defended the measures, which foresee 30 billion euros in savings, mainly from cuts to pensions and wages, saying the government will do everything possible to prevent Greece defaulting.

    "The government has the responsibility of implementing the most difficult financial measures ever taken in this country," said George Papaconstantinou, the finance minister.

    Greece urgently requires the bailout as it faces a May 19 deadline on a debt it says it cannot repay without new funds.

    Barnaby Phillips, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Athens said, that Papandreou kicked out three deputies from the ruling party after they opposed the measures.
    "For the immediate future, this is the end of the matter and the government is telling the people that EU leaders will deliver a very generous aid package," our correspondent said.

    Wednesday's deaths - the first such fatalities in protests in nearly 20 years in Greece - have shocked many people in Greece.

    Earlier during the day, Karolos Papoulias, the president of Greece, called on the country to turn back from the "brink of the abyss".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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