Athens approves of a new round of austerity measures

July 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM
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ATHENS, Greece, July 18 (UPI) -- Greek lawmakers approved a new round of austerity budgeting actions by a razor-thin margin with 153 yes votes in a Parliament of 300 members.

The New York Times reported Thursday that lawmakers approved a broad range of budget cuts, the most contentious being layoffs and pay reduction for civil service workers.

Included in the measures is a plan to put 25,000 teachers, police officers and other civil servants in a so-called "mobility plan" the includes cuts in pay in advance of layoffs.

About 5,000 protesters demonstrated peacefully outside the Parliament building as the roll-call vote was taken soon after midnight, the Times said.

Some have blamed Germany for pressing the so-called troika -- the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund -- to demand Greece tighten its financial belt in order to qualify for billions of dollar of international aid.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble is expected to visit Athens Thursday and authorities have banned demonstrations in downtown Athens during Schauble's 11-hour visit.

The austerity budgeting has also been blamed for some of the country's economic difficulties, as the country is in a prolonged recession with unemployment at above 27 percent.

The latest rounds of austerity measures was necessary for international lenders to loan Greece $9 billion.

International loans totaling $315 billion have been approved for Greece. But the troika is keeping Greece on a short leash, sending only a portion of the loans to Athens as it continues to monitor the government's financial progress.

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