ATHENS — Greece’s left-led government will present in Parliament “in coming days” key draft legislation on cutbacks that creditors have demanded and that austerity-weary unions have pledged to fight with strikes.
The draft bills on pension and income tax reform are among measures under negotiation between Athens and its bailout creditors — European countries and the International Monetary Fund.
The talks, expected to be resumed this week, were initially meant to have concluded in October. A deal would open the way to negotiations on lessening Greece’s crippling debt burden.
Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said Greece would fully implement its austerity commitments under the third bailout it signed last summer – which Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he would never seek nor sign but did both. She said, however, the government wouldn’t accept more conditions.
Tsipras, as he has before when he was squeezed by the Quartet of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-IMF-ECB-ESM), has said he will seek allies somewhere in Europe although none have given him much more than lip service support so far.
He’s in a bind, needing the lenders to release more monies from a third rescue package of 86 billion euros ($98 billion) that was okayed in August, 2015 but has stalled as he has tried to keep from reneging on more anti-austerity promises at the same time the creditors want pension cuts, higher taxes and privatizations and for Greece to make another three billion euros ($3.4 billion) in spending reductions.
Failure to make a deal could take the negotiations into June as Greece faces a raft of repayments in July on previous loans in two earlier bailouts totaling 240 billion euros ($271.9 billion) and with Tsipras desperately trying to keep his shaky coalition of SYRIZA and its partner, the pro-austerity, far-right nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) holding onto its three-vote majority in Parliament.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)