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Greece Crisis: Parliament Passes Austere 2016 Budget

Greek parliament has approved the 2016 budget that includes sharp spending cuts and some tax increases amid economic recession.

The austere budget was passed with a majority of only eight votes – 153 to 145.

“This budget is a difficult task for a government that wants to leave its mark with social justice,” PM Alexis Tsipras told lawmakers.

Alexis Tsipras agreed to a batch of economic reforms in August to secure a euro zone bailout of up to €86 billion ($93 billion).Greece austerity budget

His leftist-led government has been under pressure to deliver tangible benefits to its poorest citizens since the agreement.

Greece’s budget makes €5.7 billion in public spending cuts including €1.8 billion from pensions and €500 million from defense. It also includes tax increases of just over €2 billion.

Despite the cuts, the budget will still have a greater deficit than the 2015 budget.

Earlier this year the country reluctantly agreed to the strict conditions of its third international bailout in five years.

After losing his majority in August as a result, Alexis Tsipras called an election and was returned to power in September with 35% of the vote.

Representatives of the euro zone, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) return to Greece on December 7 for more talks about pending reforms of the pension and tax systems and public administration.

The euro zone has also held out to Greece the possibility of long-term debt relief after a review of progress under the new bailout.

However, it has said that relief would come in the form of longer delays before repayments start or finish, not a reduction – or so-called “haircut” – in the amount that has to be repaid.

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