12 Days Remaining

Saturday 11th
posted by James Tweedie in World

GREEK Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought parliamentary approval yesterday for new austerity proposals to international creditors.

Critics pointed out that the package proposed by the Syriza government’s ministers included cuts almost identical to the Eurogroup demands overwhelmingly rejected by Greek voters in Sunday’s referendum.

But with no popular mandate for an exit from the euro, now openly threatened by EU creditors since the plebiscite, Mr Tsipras had no choice but to return to the negotiating table.

If the plan were approved, Greece would in return get a three-year package of loans worth nearly £38 billion as well as some form of debt relief.

The package would be far larger than the €7.2bn (£5.18bn) creditors had been offering to Greece during the previous five months of fruitless negotiations.

Greek proposals to raise income include higher taxes on the country’s shipping industry, standardising VAT for all companies, including restaurants and caterers, at 23 per cent and abolishing a 30 per cent tax break for the wealthiest islands.

But the government also pledged to save money by cutting defence spending by €300 million (£216m) by 2016 and scrapping solidarity grants for pensioners by 2019.

Greece’s ports would be privatised under the proposal and the government would sell off its remaining share in national telecommunications utility OTE.

The proposals will be discussed by the group of 19 eurozone finance ministers today ahead of a summit of EU leaders tomorrow.

Though German officials would not be drawn on the merits of the Greek proposals, French President Francois Hollande said they were “serious and credible.”