28 Sep 2011

Greek parliament approves austerity measure

6:35 am on 28 September 2011

The Greek parliament has approved an unpopular property tax law that is crucial to new austerity measures the government has proposed to meet the terms of its international bailout.

The country is trying to persuade the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union that it deserves an 8-billion-euro loan it needs to pay salaries and avoid bankruptcy next month.

All 154 of the ruling Socialist PASOK party's deputies voted in favour of the measure, winning a majority in the 300-seat parliament.

Earlier on Tuesday bus drivers and metro workers launched a strike to protest against the measures, while tax collectors and some Finance Ministry officials began a 48-hour stoppage.

Having grown increasingly impatient at the slow pace of reforms, a "troika" team from the IMF, EU and European Central Bank threatened to cut off funds earlier this month, prompting Athens to unveil an intensified strategy.

Appeal to Germany

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has called on German business leaders to help his country out of its debt crisis.

Mr Papandreou told a gathering in Berlin that Greece is making a superhuman effort to reduce its debt, and is bringing in unprecedented reforms, the BBC reports.

He said German funding would be an investment in future success, rather than past failure.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded by saying she respects what Greece has done in terms of structural changes.

The two leaders are holding talks ahead of a German parliament vote on whether to make further payments to Greece as part of a rescue deal agreed by euro zone leaders in July.