TAX FURY IN ATHENS AS GOV’T FACES DEBT
Greece to start austerity drive as nation seethes
Sun Jun 5
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou starts a campaign on Monday to secure a new international bailout by imposing years of austerity on a nation already seething over corruption and economic mismanagement.
Unease is growing within Papandreou’s ranks about the consequences of waves of budget cuts demanded under successive deals with the European Union and IMF — and this could turn into alarm after at least 80,000 Greeks crammed a central Athens square to vent their anger over the nation’s dire state.
As the government struggles to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debt, the Socialist cabinet will discuss informally on Monday the medium-term economic plan which will impose 6.4 billion euros ($9.37 billion) of extra austerity this year alone.
This is just the first stage of a drive to turn the plan, agreed on Friday with the EU and IMF as the price of a new financial rescue, into law.
Papandreou will then present the plan to the political council of his PASOK party on Tuesday, before the cabinet clears it the following day and sends it to parliament.
Greece’s international lenders have made clear that the new bailout package, which would replace a 110 billion euro deal agreed only a year ago, depends on Athens keeping to its promises for further austerity and accelerated privatizations.
But the government is under huge pressure, not from the hooded radicals who battled police in the early days of the austerity drive, but from ordinary Greeks who are suffering badly under pay and pension cuts and soaring unemployment.