Greek lawmakers pass painful reforms to attain fiscal targets

Greek lawmakers on Monday passed a package of unpopular pension and tax reforms that the country’s leftist-led government hopes will persuade official creditors to unlock bailout cash.

The approval came just hours before euro zone finance ministers were due to discuss Greece’s reform progress and whether it had met terms of a multi-billion euro bailout.

A positive sign-off on the reform review will unlock more than 5 billion euros to ease Greece’s squeezed finances and make debt repayments maturing in June and July. Greece also hopes that the signoff will also launch discussions on debt relief.

“We have an important opportunity before us for the country to break this vicious cycle, and enter a virtuous cycle,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told lawmakers.

Earlier, thousands of demonstrators protested outside parliament. Police used teargas when isolated groups hurled petrol bombs in a central Athens square.

A combination of social security reform and additional taxation aims to ensure Greece will attain savings to meet an agreed 3.5 percent budget surplus target before interest payments in 2018, helping it to regain bond market access and make its debt load sustainable.

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