Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thousands Across Greece Protest Against New Austerity Measures



Tens of thousands of Greeks gathered in the capital Athens on Friday to protest against the new round of austerity measures. Five hours before the protest, the Greek government and its international creditors reached an agreement on the new austerity measures, including cutting pension spending by 1 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019 and raising tax by 1 percent of its GDP in 2020. It is estimated that the government will cut fiscal spending by 3.6 billion euros after the measures implemented.
"Today we are here to protest against the new austerity measures that the government has accepted," said Tassos, a protester.

"These austerity measures make our life much more difficult. We cannot live this way anymore. They keeps on cutting our pensions," he added. Among the protesters, many are elderly pensioners like Tassos. Besides the new austerity measures, they also expressed their dissatisfaction with the pension cut plan that the government announced days earlier. According to the plan, pension of those who retired after May 13, 2016 will be cut by 15 to 20 percent. About 55,000 to 60,000 pensioners will be affected, and some of them will face a pension cut of more than 35 percent.

"I'm a pensioner. But I also care about those who are still working, because the austerity measures will also apply to them," said Tassos. Greece has to pay back around 7 billion euros to its creditors this July. In July 2015, Greece and its international creditors made an agreement on a third bailout program. The country promised reforms and received 86 billion euros as bailout in three years. All reform measures in Greece should be evaluated on schedule to ensure the country get the next batch of bailout money.

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