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Greek parliament ratifies reform bill promised for second bailout

(Xinhua)

14:05, August 05, 2011

The Greek parliament ratified on Thursday evening a reform bill to ensure a smooth disbursement of the second multi-billion euro aid package by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As fears of contagion threaten Italy and Spain, Greece rushes to implement a new set of austerity and reform policies that will pave the way for the smooth release of vital further foreign aid in coming months.

The reform bill was ratified thanks to the 154-seat majority of the ruling socialist PASOK party in the 300-member strong assembly.

The latest package of measures is considered as supplementary to the mid-term three-year fiscal strategy plan approved earlier this summer, amidst strong reactions by opposition parties, labor unions and some PASOK "dissident" deputies.

The ratification this time came easily in comparison to previous critical votes in the Greek parliament over the past year, without marathon public debate.

Greece was saved with a first EU/IMF bailout pact in May 2010 and this July, as it faced the prospect of economic collapse within a few days again, secured a second package that was deemed necessary to give the country more strength to fully implement the structural reforms, slash deficits and return to stability and growth.

The Greek parliament is scheduled to meet again on Aug. 22, when the EU/IMF auditors will be back in Athens for a regular check of Greek finances before the release of the next tranche of aid this Autumn.

In the peak of summer holidays, strong public reactions were not seen these days, but local analysts forecast a new wave of protests, starting from September, that will make reform implementation difficult.

The civil servants' labor union, for instance, has already warned with new protests over the fresh cutbacks of up to 10 percent on allowances included in the bill.

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