Greece bill on tough bailout deal goes to parliament

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Greece\’s government on Tuesday submitted tough bailout terms demanded by eurozone creditors to parliament, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras battled for support for the draconian reforms from his ruling anti-austerity Syriza party.
 
With around 30 hardline Syriza party lawmakers threatening to oppose the latest reforms demanded by Greece\’s international creditors, Tsipras faced the unenviable task of turning to pro-European opposition parties to push the deal through parliament by Wednesday.
In the agreement struck Monday with the eurozone to prevent Greece crashing out of the euro, the parliament in Athens must pass sweeping changes to labour laws, pensions, VAT and taxes.
Only then will the 18 other eurozone leaders start negotiations over what Greece is to get in return: a three-year bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($95 billion), its third rescue programme in five years.
Europe\’s main stock markets marked time on doubts whether the bailout would win Greek lawmakers\’ approval.
"Mr Tsipras\’s Syriza government may see significant rebellion and approval of the deal in the Greek parliament will probably only be possible with the help of opposition parties — and even then, it is not completely certain it will pass," said strategist Kit Juckes at French bank Societe Generale.
 
With much of his party up in arms, Tsipras loyalists were hard at work to convince sceptics that the cuts could be softened through alternative measures.
But a number of prominent leftists, whose party was voted in January on an anti-austerity ticket, refused to budge.
"The great majority of Syriza organisations oppose this agreement… in terms of labour and pension issues this is worse than the last two bailouts," lawmaker and parliament vice-president Despoina Haralambidou told Vima FM radio.
Syriza\’s junior coalition partner, the nationalist Independent Greeks party (ANEL), said it would not approve the measures but would stay in the government.
Tsipras has predicted "the great majority of Greek people" will support the deal, which he said includes help to ease Greece\’s huge debt burden and to revive its crippled banking system.
 
The last-ditch deal is aimed at keeping Greece\’s economy afloat amid fears its banks were about to run dry and trigger its exit from the single currency.
French President Francois Hollande insisted there was no humiliation for Greece in the deal struck in Brussels.
SOURCE: AFP

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