Greek govt presents new creditor-demanded reform package

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s government presented a new batch of creditor-demanded reforms late Tuesday for Parliament’s ratification, including measures that would make it harder for labor unions to call strikes.

If the draft law is adopted, Greece will clear the last hurdle to receiving a rescue loan installment of about 5.5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) from its European partners.

Greece has depended on international loans since 2010. The most recent bailout program is set to expire this summer, after which the country must finance itself by borrowing direct from global investors.

Greece’s left-led government said the proposed reforms are expected to receive parliamentary approval in a Jan. 15 vote. It has stressed that the draft law includes no new income cuts like the ones Greeks have suffered repeatedly over the past eight years.

“There are no new burdens, and that is why the negotiations (with creditors) were completed so quickly,” government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said.

Unions have strongly criticized the proposed provisions on strikes, which would require at least a 50 percent turnout of union members for any votes on local job actions. The vote threshold would not apply to regional or nationwide strikes.

Earlier Tuesday, dozens of people taking part in a Communist Party-affiliated protest invaded the Labor Ministry and had an altercation with Minister Efi Achtsioglou in her office.

Nobody was hurt and no arrests were reported.

The draft law would also drastically reduce the number of people eligible for family benefits by linking payments to family income. It further stipulates that future auctions of foreclosed properties must be held online, a requirement intended to stop protesters from disrupting court auctions.

The auctions are seen as key to clearing Greek banks’ portfolios of bad loans, which have skyrocketed during the crisis as many borrowers were unable to keep up their mortgage payments.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pledged that there will be no further cutbacks after the end of the bailout program in August — beyond those his government has already committed to, including pension reductions and tax hikes.

“We will move from a period of constant adjustments to meet fiscal targets, increase revenues and reduce expenditures to one where there is greater leeway for fiscal intervention in a positive direction,” Tzanakopoulos, the government spokesman, said.

Article Courtesy of CNBC

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