In spite of strikes, protests, and long broken promises by prime minister Alexis Tsipras, the Greek parliament did as it was commanded to do by Germany: Approve pension cuts.
The vote was close, but Tsipras’ Syriza coalition holds a two or three seat majority in the Greek parliament.
By a count of three, Greece did as it was ordered.
The Financial Times reports Greece Approves Pension and Income Tax Reforms.
The Athens parliament has approved broad reforms of the country’s pension and income tax systems ahead of Monday’s emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers and IMF officials aimed at completing the first review of Greece’s €86bn bailout.
The bill passed by 153 votes in favour to 144 against in a roll-call vote following a heated two-day debate.
Anti-austerity protesters had gathered outside the parliament building on the third day of a public transport strike called by unions opposed to the new measures — part of a €5.4bn fiscal package agreed with bailout monitors from the EU and International Monetary Fund.
“This law may be voted through parliament but it’s not going to be put into practice,” said one activist.
More Demands Coming
But before closing the review and providing Athens much-needed bailout aid, the IMF and the German government are insisting that Athens go a step further and legislate an additional €3bn in “contingency measures” in case the agreed cuts prove insufficient to meet the programme’s budget surplus targets.
Athens has said it is politically impossible to legislate specific future cuts, and the European Commission has backed a Greek counterproposal for across-the-board cuts that would only be triggered if the programme veered off course. The IMF and Berlin have rejected the plan, saying that untargeted cuts are counterproductive. Eurozone officials said that the stalemate over the contingency measures made it unlikely that any agreement to close the first review will be reached at Monday’s meeting.
One has to wonder what game IMF chief Christine Lagarde is playing. On one hand she demands debt relief for Greece, on the other hand she demands more “contingency measures” that she knows full well will be needed.
Nothing has changed. Both sides pretend Greece will pay back what it cannot possibly do.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock