Greek Parliament Approves 2015 Budget

Southeast Europe | December 8, 2014, Monday // 11:59|  views

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras speaks prior a voting of the Greek Parliament for the 2015 Budget. Photo: EPA

The Greek Parliament approved the budget for 2015 in a vote early on Monday, following a five-day debate.

Out of 300 members of parliament (MPs), 290 cast their votes, with 155 MPs voting in favour, 134 against, while one abstained.

This has been described as one of the most balanced budgets in the last three decades, as it promises extensive tax cuts and projects almost no deficit as well as higher economic growth next year.

The budget foresees a growth of 2.9 % - one of the fastest growing rates in the Euro area, as Greece is set to emerge from one of the longest recessions in more than half a century, Ekathimerini reports.

The deficit is expected to decrease from 1.3 % to 0.2 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Although the government debt is expected to fall from 177.7 % to 171.4 % of GDP, it will still remain the highest in the European Union.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has taken steps to end the government's unpopular bailout programme before the end of the year in order to increase its chances of winning the presidential elections next year.

The government currently does not have the needed majority of 180 votes to elect its candidate for president.

In case the parliament fails to elect a president, new parliamentary elections should be called, which are likely to be won by the main opposition party Syriza due to its growing support in opinion polls.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza, dismissed the budget, saying that the government was planning further austerity measures, and called for early elections.

The budget remains theoretical until it is approved by the troika of international creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

However the troika is sceptical towards the projections of next year's budget.

When the draft budget was presented in November, the troika demanded EUR 3.5 billion in cuts or extra taxes.

Eurozone Finance Ministers meet in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the possible extension of Greece's current bailout programme, which expires on December 31.

Before the vote around 4 000 Greeks gathered outside the parliament to protest the austerity measures that successive governments have imposed at the request of the troika of creditors.

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Tags: greece, parliament, budget, deficit, growth, debt, bailout, troika, creditors, austerity, protest


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