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Greek Cabinet approves new round of austerity measures

Protesters listen Thursday to a speech by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis during a peaceful rally against new austerity measures.

Associated Press

Protesters listen Thursday to a speech by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis during a peaceful rally against new austerity measures.

ATHENS, Greece — The Greek Cabinet on Thursday approved and submitted to Parliament a new round of painful austerity measures and a $73 billion privatization drive that are essential for the debt-ridden country to continue receiving funds from its international bailout.

Greece is lagging behind with reforms promised in return for last year's $160 billion package of rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund. Fellow eurozone governments have warned that if the country does not enforce new austerity, it will be cut off from aid.

Without the next $17 billion installment from its rescue loans due in July, Greece, which remains stuck in recession and locked out of international bond markets, will default on its massive debts.

No specific date has been set for a vote, but Cabinet officials said they expected it to be held before June 28.

The governing Socialists hold a six-seat majority in the 300-member legislature, but many party backbenchers have strongly criticized the new austerity plan. However, none of the disgruntled Socialist lawmakers have openly threatened to vote against the measures.

New plans include a $9.4 billion package of cuts and tax hikes for this year and a renewed $32.15 billion austerity drive for 2012-2015. Officials said all Greeks earning more than $11,500 to $14,500 annually will be charged an extra tax worth up to 3 percent of their income every year for the next four years, while the sales tax on restaurants and bars will rise from 13 to 23 percent.

Greek Cabinet approves new round of austerity measures 06/09/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 9, 2011 8:54pm]
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