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11 Feb, 2012 03:11

Getting harsher? Greek cabinet approves austerity bill

The Greek cabinet has approved a draft bill for the new austerity measures needed to secure a €130 billion bailout from international lenders. The new cuts include making thousands of civil servants redundant and slashing the minimum wage.

The legislation was submitted to the parliament, which is scheduled to vote on it on Sunday.During an emergency cabinet meeting late on Friday, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos warned that the measures are vital to avoid a default that would cost Greece its place in the eurozone and spark “economic chaos and social explosion.”“It is absolutely necessary to complete the effort that began almost two years ago to consolidate public finances and to restore competitiveness and economic recovery,” Papademos told the meeting.Six ministers have quit the cabinet disagreeing with the harsh austerity measures.Meanwhile, there has been violence on the streets of the Greek capital with protesters furious about the austerity measures, while a two-day strike has brought the country to a standstill.Debt-stricken Greece needs the €130 billion bailout from the troika of the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank before a €14.5 billion eurobond repayment is due on March 20.Financial journalist Demetri Kofinas told RT that the Greek leadership's actions have nothing to do with people's welfare. “It’s just doing what is in its own interest. People who are in power benefit from a system where they can cooperate with the Eurocrats in Brussels.”Kofinas believes that the Greek government had the option of declining the austerity measures and to default instead. “There is no reason why the default has to equal an exit from the eurozone,” he said, explaining that this threat is being used to intimidate the people.