Greek parliament expected to approve fresh austerity measures

Next tranche of EU-IMF bailout loans for Athens is dependent on vote

Pharmacists at an anti-government rally outside the parliament in Athens. The main sign reads: “The recipe of the government seriously damages health”. Photograph: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

Pharmacists at an anti-government rally outside the parliament in Athens. The main sign reads: “The recipe of the government seriously damages health”. Photograph: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis

Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 21:54

The Greek government is tonight expected to narrowly win a vote on a package of measures needed to unlock a tranche of EU-IMF bailout loans, despite the resignation of a deputy minister on Saturday.

The 225-page legislation will push through austerity measures in exchange for the final sizeable bailout loan under Greece’s second bailout.

It comes two weeks after prime minister Antonis Samaras’s government and the troika of international lenders resolved a six-month impasse that had delayed the payment of a bailout loans to the country.

But strong opposition to the new adjustment measures, in particular plans to liberalise the dairy and pharmaceutical market, had threatened to jeopardise the agreement at the last minute, prompting the resignation of deputy agriculture minister Maximos Harakopoulos on Saturday. Protesters have been gathering in central Athens..

The vote comes ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Athens at which the final disbursement to Greece under its second bailout will dominate discussions. Euro zone finance ministers are expected to sanction the disbursement of €8.3 billion, followed by smaller tranches in the subsequent months, as Greece approaches a debt repayment cliff in May.

While the euro zone’s rescue package for Greece is due to expire at the end of the year, the IMF’s financial assistance runs until the first quarter of 2016.