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Greek lawmakers pass fresh reforms sought by creditors

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos (L) before a vote for an omnibus bill cutting spending on pensions, speed up privatisations and reform the electricity market, in Athens, Greece, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis


Athens / AFP

The Greek parliament has adopted fresh austerity measures sought by its international creditors, including expediting privatisation of utility companies.
The reforms were passed by 152 of the 293 parliamentary deputies present, deputy speaker Yorgos Varemenos announced after the debate.
The vote opens the way for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in loans, which have been blocked since June as Greece negotiated with its creditors.
Outside parliament more than 500 people protested against the “selling off” of public companies.
The new law foresees the reorganisation of the electricity market, the acceleration of privatisation programmes and management of non-performing loans.
Among the bodies being eyed for privatisation are the DEI electricity company and the water company.
These will initially be transferred to the new EDIS privatisation fund.
The new reforms were adopted by emergency procedure as have the majority of the austerity laws passed in recent years by cash-strapped Greece.
Earlier this month Greece’s creditors resumed an audit of the country’s finances after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said an EU-IMF rift was delaying progress on attempts to unlock the 2.8 billion euros of bailout loans.
Last week the International Monetary Fund called on the European Union to grant Greece additional debt relief and soften its demands for budgetary efforts.
Even if Athens fully respects a prescribed programme of austerity and reforms, the IMF said in an annual report on the Greek economy, the government will still require a reduction of its debt mountain.
The IMF has held off from participating in the third, European Union-led 86 billion euro ($95.3 billion) rescue programme for Greece, insisting both that creditors cut the country’s massive debt burden but also that the government press forward with reforms especially to its pension system.

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