Greek parliament agrees €28bn austerity bill to secure bailout

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The Independent Online

The Greek parliament passed a second austerity bill yesterday, opening the way for the European Union and International Monetary Fund to release a €12bn (£11bn) loan which Athens needs to avoid bankruptcy.

The vote on detailed measures for €28bn of spending cuts, tax increases and privatisations passed without the street battles which marred Wednesday's initial austerity bill.

The Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers is likely to approve the loan this weekend. "I am very satisfied. Now I can go to Eurogroup strengthened by a vote of confidence and two approved bills," Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said. "We can now move to the next stage of finding a viable solution."

After a debate taken up partly by mutual accusations over the previous day's violence around Syntagma Square in central Athens, deputies voted 155 to 136 to pass the bill.

All individual articles went through with opposition support for privatisation and spending cuts, but one deputy from the ruling Pasok party voted against a part of the bill setting up a privatisation agency to handle the sell-off of state assets.

With Greece close to a default that would cause chaos in financial markets, the EU and IMF had demanded both bills be passed before they release the next batch of a bailout package agreed last year.

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