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Greek Parliament passes pension, tax reform bill amid chaos

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras attends a parliamentary sess

Athens (Greece): The Parliament in Greece on Monday passed a bill for broad reforms of the country’s pension and income tax systems.

The bill was approved by the 153 lawmakers of the ruling Syriza/Independent Greeks government coalition, while opposition parties in the 300-member Parliament voted against it, following a heated two-day debate, reports cbsnews.com.

“We are determined to make Greece stand on its two feet at any cost,” the Guardian quoted Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as saying while addressing the 300-seat House.

The bill is set to increase social security and pension contributions and is also expected to raise taxes for most of the people.

The vote took place amid chaos with agitators protesting on streets, ahead of today’s emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers and International Monetary Fund(IMF) officials aimed at completing the first review of Greece’s €86bn bailout.

The government now expects that its creditors will move to lighten its debt burden, and that this will dominate the agenda of a meeting

But, the creditors themselves are against forgiving part of Greece’s massive debt.

The creditors most likely appear willing to discuss cutting the higher interest rates that will prevail after 2022 and lengthening the repayment period.

The creditors have already put pressure on Greece for further austerity measures costing billions of dollars.

The bill however will not be the last for the government which hopes to divide the creditors to achieve more favorable terms and be excused from further austerity measures.

Already a new bill calling for higher taxes on a range of products, from tobacco to beer to broadband Internet connections is being planned, expected to pass later in the month.

Talks on further reforms as part country’s third bailout have been dragging on for more than six months.

The opposition blasted government for failing to revive the economy.

Greece is now in its eighth year of recession and seventh under creditor-mandated austerity.

Prime Minister Tsipras and his ministers, however, defemded their plans and said that things were worse when the opposition was ruling the country asserting that they were trying to root out corruption.

“You say you want spending cuts, but you don’t dare name them,” Tsipras said.

Tsipras and Labor Minister George Katrougalos, who introduced the bill, said that social security contributions would decline for many self-employed professionals.

Katrougalos said the bill’s provisions showed the way forward for social policy in a Europe dominated by pro-market “neoliberals.” (ANI)

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