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Greece issues key austerity decrees

Updated: 2012-11-20 10:33
( Xinhua)

ATHENS - Greek government on Monday issued two key decrees detailing fiscal adjustment monitoring procedures and structural reforms ahead of a crucial Euro Group meeting on Tuesday, aiming to secure further international aid to avert a catastrophic default.

The step was met with a new wave of anti-austerity demonstrations by affected municipal workers who staged sit-in protests at ministries in Athens and city halls across the country.

Greece issues key austerity decrees

A municipality worker plays a euphonium as he takes part in a rally against state sector layoffs demanded by the country's international lenders, outside the city hall in Athens Nov 19, 2012. Greece approved laws on Monday to enforce budget targets and ensure privatisation proceeds are used to pay off debt, seeking to appease foreign lenders before a critical meeting of euro zone finance ministers. [Photo/Agencies] 

According to the special legislative acts which need no parliamentary approval, the Finance Ministry will have enforced powers over other ministries, local administration and public companies as of this month.

In cases of slippages from fiscal targets set under coordination with international lenders, an inspector could automatically proceed within a few weeks in corrective measures, which include supplementary cuts on state spending and tax increases.

In addition, according to the two government decrees, part of revenues from a privatization program will be added into a special bank account set at the Greece Central Bank which will be used to pay off the country's debt.

The framework of Monday's decrees was set by the fresh package of austerity and reform measures sealed by the Greek assembly two weeks ago as requested by European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders before the disbursement of the next bailout loan tranche to Athens in November.

A Euro Group meeting is to convene on Tuesday in Brussels to decide on the tranche and the next steps to ensure the success of the stability and growth program launched in 2010 in return of rescue loans to address the Greek and European financial crisis.

Without further aid, Greece could financially collapse by year end, and most likely be forced to leave the euro zone, sending shockwaves across the global financial system.

Frustrated by steep austerity and recession, facing the prospect of a painful labor reserve program and mass layoffs included in the latest package of policies, municipal employees across Greece were the first to protest Monday's decrees, stepping up their week-long mobilization.

Hundreds of demonstrators staged sit-in protests at ministries and city halls across Athens and other major cities. They vowed to "continue their struggle" until they block the implementation of the policies, calling for different ways to resolve the crisis.

Conservative Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who said he was determined to continue the austerity and reform path to tackle the crisis, was due to hold meetings with his two centre-Left coalition partners on Monday evening to discuss their next steps.