German Lawmakers OK Last Greek Bailout Loan Release

(EUROKINISSI / GIANNIS PANAGOPOULOS)

With their country putting up the bulk of 326 billion euros ($)in three international bailouts, German lawmakers approved the final loan payment of 15 billion euros ($) for Greece before the rescue packages expire on Aug. 20, ending eight years of aid but not austerity that came with it.

The loans were backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who insisted on, and got, big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings in Greece, along with the sale of state assets at cheap prices to insure her country’s banks would get paid back.

The German Parliament’s Budget Committee raised no objections to the payment at a special sitting Aug. 1 convened during the parliamentary summer break. The pro-business Free Democrats and far-right Alternative for Germany sought to block it but motions were voted down.

European authorities had earlier approved the payout in principle but final approval was delayed as Greece was asked to find additional 2018 budget savings after extending a sales tax discount on islands affected by the ongoing refugee crisis.

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’ claim there would be a “clean exit,” after the bailouts end, leaving Greece to the mercy of the markets, was shot down by the creditors who said Greece’s economy will need monitoring for year to make sure there’s no backsliding on reforms and that fiscal targets are hit.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)