Greece voted reforms, it's time for debt relief: Greek PM

20 May 2017, 09:47 | Isaac Mcdaniel

GETTYGreece is pleading for kinder re-payment terms and conditions

Tsipras and Merkel

All 153 lawmakers in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' governing coalition backed the legislation that includes new pension cuts and lower tax breaks, which are expected to save Greece 4.9 billion euros ($5.4 billion) until 2021. Police responded with teargas dispersing the crowd temporarily.

The demonstration was mainly peaceful, although several anarchist groups threw Molotov cocktails at the statue of the Unknown Soldier in front of Parliament and clashed with the police.

Greek MPs have voted in favour of further austerity measures against a backdrop of protests, in order to receive further bailout funds from European creditors.

Another 2,000 people gathered outside parliament following a call from the country's main trade unions.

The legislation is a part of measures to convince global creditors to release a €7.5 billion bailout tranche and grant Greece further debt relief.

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An anti-austerity rally in Greece's capital turned violent Wednesday as a general strike halted flights, ferries and public transportation, and as thousands joined protest marches across the country. Athens hopes the disbursement of 7 billion euros from existing bailout loans will be approved by a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on May 22. They were repulsed with tear gas, and police said one man was arrested and two more detained on suspicion of taking part in the violence. Greek workers have walked off the job across the country for a nat.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told Skai TV that Greek creditors the International Monetary Fund and Germany were "in the final stretch of very tough negotiations" over a compromise that should allow Greece to return to bond markets in 2018. In the meantime parliament is expected to vote in favour of the plan which would lower pensions and raise taxes by almost five billion euros, although compensation is planned for the most deprived along with subsidies for rents and medicine.

The new belt-tightening measures, if approved, would be imposed after Greece's current third bailout ends next year. The banking restrictions and limits on cash withdrawals remain.

Since then, a number of worldwide lenders, including EU institutions and the global Monetary Fund (IMF), agreed to provide Athens with several bailout packages in exchange for austerity reforms, which have been bitterly opposed by the country's trade unions.

Opposition party New Democracy's leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis alleged that the omnibus reform package was the biggest political fraud the country has ever known.

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