Sunday 22 October 2017

Protesters back on the street as Greek parliament debates plans

protests

Annika Breidthardt and Dan Flynn

Crowds of demonstrators gathered in the central square outside the parliament in Athens yesterday in protest at the austerity measures, but unlike last week there were no violent clashes.

Power workers began a strike and blackouts were expected in parts of the country.

In parliament, Greek legislators debated the highly unpopular plans, which aim to produce a further €6.5bn in budget consolidation this year, and €28bn through 2015, as well as €50bn from the sale of state assets.

Inspectors from the EU and IMF will make a further visit to Athens this week, having just completed an inspection to examine changes the country wants to make to the plan, Olli Rehn, the EU's monetary affairs commissioner, said.

Deadline

To impose a deadline on Athens, the chairman of the eurozone finance ministers, Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said he had already scheduled an extraordinary meeting of eurozone finance ministers for July 3, when the disbursement of the €12bn will be approved if Greece keeps its side of the deal.

The euro weakened against the dollar marginally yesterday and the cost of insuring Greek and Italian debt against default rose, a reflection of the increasing risk of contagion across highly indebted eurozone states from Greece's problems.

While it seems likely that Athens will eventually get the extra tranche, as well as a further emergency loan programme of around €120bn up to the end of 2014, the net result is only to buy Greece more time for the possibility of a debt restructuring.

Eurozone officials say the new plan is expected to fund Greece into late 2014 and feature up to €60bn of fresh official loans, €30bn from the private sector, and €30bn from privatisations.

In an attempt to win the cooperation of the ECB, which opposes any scheme that would cause credit rating agencies to declare Greece in default, the ministers said the private sector debt rollover would avoid even a limited or "selective" default.

Irish Independent

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