Greece OKs austere budget amid protests

Nov. 12, 2012 at 9:14 AM

ATHENS, Greece, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Greek lawmakers approved an austerity budget of spending cuts and tax increases for 2013, advancing a step in its bid to receive foreign aid.

The vote occurred as about 20,000 demonstrators gathered outside Parliament to protest the austerity measures, The New York Times reported.

Most members of Parliament from a three-party coalition approved the budget, which calls for about $12 billion in cuts to salaries, pensions and benefits, raising taxes and hiking the retirement age from 65 to 67.

Before the vote Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told Parliament the new round of cuts would be the last and appealed to Greece's lenders -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund -- to support the fiscally ailing country.

"Greece has done its part, now it's the turn of the lenders," Samaras said, referring to the release of a rescue loan of $40.1 billion, necessary to prevent the country from defaulting this month.

Alexis Tsipras of the left-wing Syriza Party, called for an annulment of all austerity measures and a write-off of the country's debt. He accused Greece's creditors of reneging on their pledges to the country by postponing the release of financing.

Eurozone finance ministers were expected to discuss Greece's debt issues this week in Brussels, the Times said. They weren't expected to sign off on the $40.1 billion aid package.

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