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Greek parliament approves reform bill ahead of bailout review
[ATHENS] The Greek parliament approved an omnibus bill on Friday cutting pensions, raising the retirement age, increasing punishment for tax evasion and liberalising the energy market ahead of the first review of the country's new bailout programme later this month.
Inspectors from the European Commission, European Central Bank, euro zone rescue fund and International Monetary Fund are expected in Athens at the end of October to assess progress on Greece's third financial rescue package.
Athens wants to conclude the review and recapitalise its banks quickly, to secure fresh aid and talks on debt relief. But it must first enact a long list of reforms as detailed in the 86-billion-euro (S$135.1 billion) bailout plan.
In a long debate which started early Friday and ended an hour after midnight, 154 lawmakers from co-governing leftist Syriza and Independent Greeks approved the broad outline of measures in the 300-seat parliament. "You will have a combative government which will provide a solution to the debt issue," Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos earlier told lawmakers, pledging to introduce measures to buffer vulnerable groups from the most painful elements of tax reform.
One Independent Greek lawmaker rejected pension and tax reforms in an article-by-article vote, but agreed with the package in principle.