Greek lawmakers to vote on more austerity over weekend

AP News
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Posted: May 17, 2016 10:36 AM

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek lawmakers are set to vote on more budget austerity measures on Sunday, in time for a meeting of eurozone finance ministers who will discuss whether to release more bailout funds for the debt-ridden country.

The new bill is expected to include a raft of tax hikes, including raising consumer tax from 23 percent to 24 percent, increasing taxes on fuel, hotel stays, alcohol and tobacco as well as liberalizing the sale of non-performing loans. It is also expected to include details of contingency budget savings that would automatically come into force if Greece misses certain targets.

The bill will be submitted to Parliament by Wednesday, allowing for a vote on Sunday, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said Tuesday.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet next Tuesday, May 24 to discuss whether Greece has made enough progress on reforms required under its third international bailout for more rescue loan funds to be released. Time is running out for the country, which faces a bond repayment in July it would struggle to meet without the funds.

Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, European Stability Mechanism and European Commission reviewing Greece's progress have been dragging on for months amid disagreements on the sustainability of the country's debt and the contingency measures.

Greece's left-led coalition government had initially opposed any bailout measures but Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reneged on initial election promises to sign up to a third round of rescue loans during a second election last year. His coalition government holds 153 of Parliament's 300 seats, giving him a narrow majority to pass necessary legislation without opposition support.