Turmoil in Greece


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Greece is again in turmoil as the country tries to implement the toughest of the austerity measures demanded by creditors.

Greece is again in turmoil over the austerity measures being imposed by its creditors. Police
and protesters
clashed outside the parliament yesterday as MPs prepared to vote on controversial pension and tax laws that are seen as the toughest reforms the country has been forced to enact since its financial crisis began. The magnitude of disappointment and anger among Greeks could be gauged from the severity of violence. Rioters threw police with stones while black-clad anarchists pelted flaming Molotov cocktails. The unions had called a nationwide strike on Friday to protest the reforms and several vital sectors were hit.

The creditors are demanding an overhaul of the pensions system -- which would effectively cut the pensions people are receiving -- and rises in social security contributions. Ordinary Greeks believe this would further pile misery on them after going through the worst of times. Greece’s largest labour union the private sector GSEE said the changes were the “last nail on the coffin” for workers and pensioners. “Every day they destroy our country a little more” a young waiter said. “How can anyone survive on a national monthly pension of €384?” another man asked which aptly captures the frustration of the people. But creditors are adamant and are unlikely to budge from their position – which is that Greece must implement all of the reforms demanded of it if the next tranche of about €5bn which is overdue is to be released. Eurozone finance ministers are meeting in an emergency session today to discuss Greece. It’s not that the government
in Athens doesn’t want to help its people. Leftist Prime Minister
Alexis Tsipras had tried in vain to convince his European lenders not to push his country too far. Finance Minister
Euclid Tskalotos too has warned of the dangers of punishing a country which has already suffered. Greece’s economy has shrunk by more than 25 percent in the six years since successive government
s began cutting budgets in return for bailout money and the austerity measures are still continuing. Tens of thousands of people whose lives have been torn asunder by the crisis and the austerity measures are yet to come out of their misery.

But despite the protests and anger there is no solution in sight to the current problems. As in the past the creditors will not release funds unless the reforms are carried out and the government
will be forced to carry out the reforms because it doesn’t have a second option. This is a phase Greeks have to go through. It’s upto their government
to convince the lenders about the consequences of reforms. And the lenders too must adopt a more lenient approach.


The Peninsula

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