Tuesday, June 28, 2011
GREECE REVOLT - Greece protest against austerity package turns violent
Police have fired tear gas in running battles with stone-throwing youths in Athens, where a 48-hour general strike is being held against a parliamentary vote on tough austerity measures.
Thousands of protesters have gathered outside parliament in the capital where public transport has ground to a halt.
PM George Papandreou has said that only his 28bn-euro (£25bn) austerity plan would get Greece back on its feet.
If the package is not approved, Greece could run out of money within weeks.
Without a new plan in place, the EU and IMF say they will withhold 12bn euros of loans which Greece needs to repay debts due in mid-July.
Monday's rally started peacefully, but escalated into running skirmishes on the fringes of the main demonstration.
Some protesters started throwing stones and bottles at the police in one corner of the central Syntagma Square, with police firing tear gas to keep protesters back.
Small fires appear to have been started by the protesters.
The general strike has halted most public services, banks are closed and hospitals are operating on skeleton staff.
Airports are shutting for hours at a time, with air traffic controllers walking out between 0800 and 1200 (0500-0900 GMT) and 1800 and 2200 (1500-1900 GMT). A number of flights were also cancelled at Athens international airport.
Trains, buses and ferries are also affected.
In Athens, the metro is the only form of public transport which will work "so as to allow Athenians to join the planned protests in the capital", metro drivers said.
More than 5,000 police officers were deployed in the centre of Athens as the protesters marched towards parliament.
Protesters have blockaded the port of Piraeus, near Athens, which links most Greek islands with the mainland.
"The situation that the workers are undergoing is tragic and we are near poverty levels," said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union at the blockade.
"The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war."
The unions are angry that the government's austerity programme will impose taxes on those earning the minimum wage, following months of other cuts which have seen unemployment rise to more than 16%.
Continue reading - BBC - Greece protest against austerity package turns violent
Reuters - Police fire teargas at Greek austerity protest
Breakdown Of Greek Austerity Measures
- Taxes will increase by 2.32bn euros this year, with additional taxes of 3.38bn euros in 2012, 152m euros in 2013 and 699m euros in 2014.
- A solidarity levy of between 1% and 5% of income will be levied on households to raise 1.38bn euros.
- The tax-free threshold for income tax will be lowered from 12,000 to 8,000 euros.
- There will be higher property taxes
- VAT rates are to rise: the 19% rate will increase to 23%, 11% becomes 13%, and 5.5% will increase to 6.5%.
- The VAT rate for restaurants and bars will rise to 23% from 13%.
- Luxury levies will be introduced on yachts, pools and cars.
- Some tax exemptions will be scrapped
- Excise taxes on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol will rise by one third.
- Special levies on profitable firms, high-value properties and people with high incomes will be introduced.
PUBLIC SECTOR CUTS
- The public sector wage bill will be cut by 770m euros in 2011, 600m euros in 2012, 448m euros in 2013, 300m euros in 2014 and 71m euros in 2015.
- Nominal public sector wages will be cut by 15%.
- Wages of employees of state-owned enterprises will be cut by 30% and there will be a cap on wages and bonuses.
- All temporary contracts for public sector workers will be terminated.
- Only one in 10 civil servants retiring this year will be replaced and only one in 5 in coming years.
- Defence spending will be cut by 200m euros in 2012, and by 333m euros each year from 2013 to 2015.
- Health spending will be cut by 310m euros this year and a further 1.81bn euros in 2012-2015, mainly by lowering regulated prices for drugs.
- Public investment will be cut by 850m euros this year.
- Subsidies for local government will be reduced.
- Education spending will be cut by closing or merging 1,976 schools.
- Social security will be cut by 1.09bn euros this year, 1.28bn euros in 2012, 1.03bn euros in 2013, 1.01bn euros in 2014 and 700m euros in 2015.
- There will be more means-testing and some benefits will be cut.
- The government hopes to collect more social security contributions by cracking down on evasion and undeclared work.
- The statutory retirement age will be raised to 65, 40 years of work will be needed for a full pension and benefits will be linked more closely to lifetime contributions.
- The government aims to raise 50bn euros from privatisations by 2015, including:
- Selling stakes this year in the betting monopoly OPAP, the lender Hellenic Postbank, port operators Piraeus Port and Thessaloniki Port as well as Thessaloniki Water.
- It has agreed to sell 10% of Hellenic Telecom to Deutsche Telekom for about 400m euros.
- Next year, the government plans to sell stakes in Athens Water, refiner Hellenic Petroleum, electricity utility PPC, lender ATEbank as well as ports, airports, motorway concessions, state land and mining rights.
- It plans further sales to raise 7bn euros in 2013, 13bn euros in 2014 and 15bn euros in 2015.
via BBC - Breakdown Of Greek Austerity Measures
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