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Greek parliament votes in favour of cuts

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European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso (right) with Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos yesterday

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso (right) with Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos yesterday

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso (right) with Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos yesterday

THE Greek parliament finally approved state pension and health-care cuts yesterday after Tuesday's decision to ratify a €3.2bn package of spending reductions to the 2012 budget.

A total of 202 lawmakers voted in favour of the budget law and 80 against, parliament speaker Grigoris Niotis said.

Yesterday's vote on permanent changes to pension funds and health-care spending, demanded by the European Union and IMF in return for the €130bn lifeline, will take Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papa-demos one step closer to the country securing a rescue package to avert financial collapse.

"Things are and will be difficult," Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told the chamber before the vote.

"Now we are gaining a safe framework, with private-sector involvement, recapitalisation of banks, but it needs work, work, work, unity, consensus, seriousness."

European governments moved toward a second rescue of Greece last week, calculating that the cost of a fresh bailout, which includes a writedown of about €100bn of Greek debt, is a price worth paying to prevent a financial collapse that could shatter the euro area.

Yesterday's vote in parliament will cut 12pc off any state pension above €1,300, trim wages for all public-sector employees and slash the minimum wage by 22pc.

Unions held a three-hour work stoppage and picketed the European Commission offices in Athens to protest.

Firemen and police officers, who will see their wages fall 10pc, marched through the city centre on Tuesday, wearing their uniforms and decrying a cut in wages that they say will mean a monthly wage of €585.

Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, the second- biggest party and leading in opinion polls, repeated his call for elections as soon as the financing package is wound up.

Greece's state-asset sales agency called yesterday for expressions of interest in the sale of the country's gas supplier Depa and its gas grid operator unit Desfa.

Bidders are invited to express interest in either buying all of Depa and a 66pc stake in Desfa or in just acquiring all of Depa. (Bloomberg)

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