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Greek bailout

Greek parliament approves more austerity measures amid protests

Greece's parliament has passed pension cuts and other austerity measures in order to unlock another bailout. Protests against the latest austerity bill turned violent ahead of the vote in parliament.

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Greece approves more austerity

All 153 lawmakers in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' governing coalition backed the legislation that includes new pension cuts and lower tax breaks, which are expected to save Greece 4.9 billion euros ($5.4 billion) until 2021.

All opposition lawmakers present in the 300-seat chamber rejected the package required by international lenders before the release of more aid.

Athens needs the bailout funds to repay 7.5 billion euros of debt maturing in July this year. Relief measures will only kick in if Greece meets fiscal targets stipulated by its creditors.

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Pensioners targeted again for austerity

'Nightmare'

"Our country is being turned into an austerity colony," leading opposition conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during debate on the bill, describing added cuts as a "nightmare" for low-earners.

Tsipras countered that its passage would enable Greece from summer next year to stand on its own feet, without the intervention of creditors such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

He accused the opposition of constantly warning of a catastrophe that "hasn't come."

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told Skai TV that Greek creditors the IMF and Germany were "in the final stretch of very tough negotiations" over a compromise that should allow Greece to return to bond markets in 2018.

Tax exceptions lowered

Thursday's austerity package lowers the income tax exception from 8,600 euros down to about 5,700 euros but increases benefits for low-income tenants, parents with children and subsidies for child care.

Public stakes are to be reduced through sales of holdings in Greece's PPC electricity utility, railways, Athens' international airport and the Thessaloniki port. 

Second day of protest

Parliament's near-midnight vote followed a second day of trade-union-led protests on Thursday, when at least 10,000 people demonstrated outside parliament.

Masked youths broke away from an otherwise peaceful crowd and threw petrol bombs at riot police, who responded with tear gas.

Protests in Athens and Thessaloniki had also accompanied a general strike on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Tspiras came to power in 2015 promising to remove austerity measures imposed during Greece's first two international bailouts.

His government was soon faced by default and a run on banks, and later in that year he signed up to a third bailout.

Last year, Greece had a huge public debt equating to 179 percent of its annual output.

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