Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reuters: Greek parliament approve 2011 austerity budget


(Reuters) - The Greek parliament on Thursday approved a 2011 budget that imposes yet more austerity on the debt-choked nation, hours after thousands took to the streets shouting, "We can't take it any more."
The bill targets a budget deficit of 7.4 percent of GDP next year, down from about 9.4 percent this year, through more spending cuts and tax increases, in order to put Greece in line with terms of the bailout that saved it from bankruptcy in May.
"We will do whatever it takes to succeed," Prime Minister George Papandreou told lawmakers just before they started to vote. "We will change this country."
The budget was approved on a strict party-line vote by the 156 ruling socialist party lawmakers in the 300-strong parliament.
Public transport ground to a halt in the capital Athens on Wednesday as about 3,000 protesters rallied peacefully in front of parliament to protest against wage cuts in the public sector and other steps meant to help stem a crisis that has shaken the euro zone, spread to Ireland and threatens others like Portugal.
"We have no hope, we are just drowning," said Apostolos Kostopoulos, 46, a Public Power Corporation technician whose salary was cut. "Parliament is voting today on a budget that will plunge people deeper into poverty," he said as others waved a large Greek flag covered with "For Sale" tags.
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