Greek Parliament Approves Austerity Measures to Release Funds

Greek lawmakers passed a bill that puts thousands of state workers on notice for possible dismissal, a victory for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that clears the way for the country’s next installment of bailout loans.

A total of 153 lawmakers voted for most of the articles in a roll call with 140 against, Deputy Parliament Speaker Christos Markogiannakis said in remarks carried live on state-run Vouli TV after voting ended shortly after midnight local time. The vote came hours before German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble arrives in Athens for a one-day visit.

With his coalition reduced and Greece stuck in its sixth year of recession, Samaras pushed the job cuts over public protests amid record unemployment of 27 percent. Passage was needed for euro-area officials and the International Monetary Fund to sign off on the next disbursements from a 240 billion-euro ($314 billion) bailout.

“An unprecedented effort is now under way to reconstitute our country’s economy and state,” Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told lawmakers before the vote. “I’m totally confident that the road we’re following is the right one. The effort is yielding results.”

The bill includes provisions to push through a plan to put 25,000 public employees on notice for possible dismissal. About 3,000 people protested peacefully in front of parliament during the debate, according to police estimates.

Euro-area finance ministers, whose deputies will discuss unlocking the payment in a July 24 teleconference, committed to pay 2.5 billion euros this month and 500 million euros in October. In addition, Greece can count on recouping 2 billion euros of central bank profits on domestic bonds, plus 1.8 billion euros from the IMF.

Samaras’s coalition was shaken last month after the departure of the Democratic Left party following the closure of state broadcaster ERT. His New Democracy party must now rely on its historic rival, the socialist Pasok party. The two control 155 of the Greek parliament’s 300 seats.

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