Greek Parliament Approves More Deep Spending Cuts

Posted February 28th, 2012 at 7:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The Greek parliament late Tuesday approved another $4 billion in spending cuts, as demanded by the European Union so that Greece can get a new economic rescue loan.

Tuesday's measure includes deep cuts in civil service pensions — part of a broad package of spending cuts and other economic reforms.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos called the pension cuts a dramatic move. But he said parliament must urgently approve the entire package of cuts before a Thursday eurozone finance ministers' meeting. He said Greece has to show its credibility to the ministers.

Hundreds of police and firefighters protested the pension cuts in central Athens Tuesday, saying they cannot tolerate any more financial sacrifices. Some of the marchers burned a flag with a swastika on it. Many Greeks blame Germany, Europe's largest economy, for the EU demand for sharp budget cuts.

Eurozone ministers last week approved a new $172 billion bailout for Greece — its second rescue package in two years. Private lenders also agreed to a bond swap with Greece that will save the country $142 billion in debt.

But the rescue package and bond swap require Greece to take drastic moves such as sharply cutting the minimum wage and eliminating thousands of civil service jobs.

German support for increased aid to the Athens government has been falling. Surveys show its population overwhelmingly in opposition. Chancellor Angela Merkel won parliamentary approval Monday for the new Greek rescue. But 17 members of her ruling coalition voted against it.