ATHENS – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, bending to international creditors, has agreed to automatic spending cuts if fiscal targets aren’t met, the business newspaper Naftemporiki reported.
The Radical Left SYRIZA leader had spurned the idea demanded by the Quartet of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-IMF-ECB-ESM) as one condition of continuing aid from a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($96.39 billion) he said he didn’t want and wouldn’t accept but did both.
That mechanism, as well as a raft of new taxes he also vowed he would never impose, went to the Parliament barely controlled by the coalition of his party and its partner, the pro-austerity, far-right, nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) who also reneged on campaign promises to help the country’s most vulnerable.
Lawmakers will hold perfunctory debates for four days before voting on the measures at midnight on May 22. They are expected to pass with the backing of the 153 coalition Members of Parliament, a three-vote majority, with rival parties opposing or abstaining.
Tsipras needs the vote so that the lenders will release as much as 10 billion euros ($11.21 billion) in more aid from the third rescue package, almost all of which goes right back to the lenders to make payments for two previous bailouts of 240 billion euros ($269 billion).
The Parliament last week, with only the coalition in favor, voted for 5.4-billion euros ($6.05 billion) as Tsipras continued his surrender to the Quartet after relenting his defiance.
Among the new increases is a hike of 1 percent in the Value Added Tax (VAT) bringing it to 24 percent and hitting workers, pensioners and the poor especially with a bigger cut out of their meager spending power.