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2011 budget voted with strikes and threats

22 December 2010 / 10:12:26  GRReporter
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Today, deputies in the Greek Parliament will vote on the 2011 budget, which portends a difficult year of strict fiscal discipline, economic constraints, painful reforms and social upheavals. The government of George Papandreou is facing a tough vote as his policy is being increasingly criticized not only by the opposition but by his own party too. In general, the opposition objected to the proposed draft budget, arguing that it is not feasible and will need to be updated in the coming months.

PASOK MPs also took a stand against the draft, arguing that estimates are wrong. They made the important statement that they will support the budget, but do not believe that it will be implemented. Inner critic to Papandreou is gaining strength that he underestimates the work of the Socialist parliamentary group, does not adequately explain his policy to his MPs and even ignores some of them by systematically refusing meeting them.

It turns out that the Socialist government is not uniform in its actions and words. In practice, two ministers – the Minister of Finance George Papaconstantinou and the Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, followed by the Transport Minister Dimitris Repas – bear the burden of hard work and reforms, while the others are somehow unconvincing to interfering sometimes.

The situation outside the Parliament and the government is difficult too. The wave of strikes in Greece is getting stronger rather than weaker despite the coming holidays. A 24-hour transport strike takes place today in the day of the vote on the budget. Transport workers' protests continue on Thursday and Friday and actually will spoil the Christmas holidays of Athens and Thessaloniki residents.

Panhellenic strike against the budget will be held today from 12 o’clock at noon to 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The unions organized a protest march at 1 o’clock in front of the Greek Parliament – the time when lawmakers inside the building will vote the next year's budget. Meanwhile, lawyers, pharmacists, drivers, architects and construction engineers are preparing to go on strike – this time against the opening of the so-called closed professions.

Given all this, the warning of the international agency Fitch that it could lower the credit rating of Greece at the end of January, when it will report on the condition of the country, seems reasonable. Currently, the credit rating is BBB – the lowest credit rating the agency recommends investments. Two other major international agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's have already sent similar warnings to Athens too.


Tags: 2011 budgetMembers of ParliamentStrikesPublic transportCredit ratingFitch
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