Privatization gains slim victory in Greece

Oct. 31, 2012 at 8:30 PM
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ATHENS, Greece, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A bill allowing the Greek government to sell some state-owned utilities squeaked through the Parliament on Wednesday.

The measure had been expected to pass easily and its slim margin was seen as a bad sign for passage of an austerity package of aimed at trimming 13.5 billion euros ($17.5 billion) from the budget, The Wall Street Journal reported. That vote is expected next week.

The austerity measures were demanded as the price of a European bailout.

One of the key provisions in the privatization legislation was adopted 148-139, and that was after Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras agreed to amend the bill to allow parliamentary approval for some privatizations. Some members of the Democratic Left and the Socialist PASOK parties, both in the governing coalition, did not vote.

"When it comes to the measures there will be more serious objections than what happened with the privatization vote," a veteran PASOK official said later. "Still, I expect that big majority of PASOK deputies will back the measures since the alternative would be a full economic collapse. We expect to see three defections maximum."

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