Greece tables law on latest EU-IMF loan deal
AFP, Friday 26 Apr 2013
Proposed law formalises dismissal of 15,000 civil servants by 2014 at behest of international creditors

Greece on Friday tabled to parliament a law enshrining the latest reforms agreed with its troika of international creditors earlier this month in return for 8.8 billion euros ($11.4 billion) in bailout loans.

The legislation, slated for a vote late on Sunday, formalises the dismissal of 15,000 civil servants by 2014, including 4,000 this year.

This includes staff being pensioned off, fired for corruption, incompetence, or made redundant through the elimination of state entities.

Unions are organising a protest on Sunday against the measure. Some 1,000 municipal workers demonstrated on the issue in Athens on Friday.

Greece's conservative-led coalition has 167 deputies in the 300-seat parliament, more than enough required to pass the bill.

The new legislation also speeds up general dismissal procedures in the civil service, extends weekly working hours for teachers, opens a number of professions to competition and reduces a controversial property tax by 15 percent.

EU-IMF bailout loans worth 2.8 billion euros are pending since March and another 6.0 billion originally due in the first quarter are scheduled in May.

The EU and the IMF have committed a total of 240 billion euros in rescue loans to Greece since 2010, with the heavily-indebted country obliged to pursue austerity measures in exchange for the international aid it needs to avoid bankruptcy.

The cutbacks and tax hikes that the Greek government has implemented at the behest of the troika have had an immense impact on the Greek economy and society.

Another general strike is scheduled for May 1, the second this year.

Greek GDP has fallen by more than 22 percent overall since 2008 as austerity measures have eroded domestic demand as salaries and pensions have been cut.

Unemployment has shot up to 27 percent of the workforce.

The Greek finance ministry on Friday said the economy was expected to contract by 4.2 percent of output this year and record a limited return to growth by 0.6 percent in 2014 for the first time after six years of recession.