Greece passes new cuts to unblock funds

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, attend a parliamentary session in Athens, 22 MayImage copyright

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos in parliament on Sunday

The Greek parliament has passed new budget cuts and tax rises two days before a eurozone meeting expected to unblock much-needed bailout funds.

The government led by the leftist Syriza coalition passed the widely unpopular bill by 153 votes to 145.

Greece agreed to a third bailout worth €86bn (£67bn; $96bn) last year.

Demonstrators gathered outside parliament on Sunday to protest against the new legislation. Eurozone finance ministers meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

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Protests continued on Sunday outside parliament

The bill also creates a state privatisation fund requested by its eurozone finance ministers.

One Syriza MP, Vassiliki Katrivanou, voted against the fund and a contingency mechanism that will trigger automatic spending cuts if the country fails to meet the targets of the bailout deal.

Greece is trying to negotiate new aid for a debt payment of €3.5bn due in two months’ time.

Earlier this month, parliament approved reforms of the pension and income tax system.

“European leaders get the message that Greece is sticking to its promises,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was quoted as saying by AFP news agency before the vote on Sunday. “Now, it’s their turn.”

“No one in Greece will remain unaffected by the typhoon of the new measures,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the leader of the New Democracy conservative opposition party said. “Employment is punished, property is prosecuted.”

As protesters demonstrated in Athens, a public transport strike continued in protest at the reforms.

Debt repayment

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