Greece: Fresh austerity measures unblock sixth tranche of the current bailout package
October 30, 2011
On 20 October, the Greek parliament passed fresh austerity measures, by a narrow margin of 154-144, amid violent protests in central Athens and a general strike. The painful raft of new legislation aims to cut pensions further, introduce new tax hikes, slash public sector wages and jobs and change collective bargaining rights. The day after the Greek parliament approved the new measures, the finance ministers of the Eurozone decided to unblock the sixth tranche of EUR 8 billion (USD 11 billion) from the current EUR 110 billion EU-IMF bailout package. That said, the disbursement has yet to be approved by the IMF, which funds almost a third of the fund. On 26 October, after several months of talks about the sustainability of the Greek debt burden and the magnitude of the private bondholders' implication in Greece's debt restructuring, European leaders invited private investors to assume a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal losses of 50% on Greek debt, far more than the 21% previously agreed in the July meeting. This massive private sector involvement, together with the profound economic reforms underway in Greece, aims to bring down Greek debt from the current projection of 170% of GDP for this year to 120% of GDP in 2020. Moreover, the Eurozone governments confirmed the second bailout package of EUR 130 billion until 2014. The new program will be agreed before year-end and the exchange of bonds implemented at the beginning of next year. According to the European Banking Authority (EBA), the Greek banking system, which holds around 67% of all government debt in private sector hands, will need to raise EUR 30 billion in fresh capital to meet the new core capital requirement of 9% agreed to on 26 October. Prior to the current restructuring, on 2 October, the government presented its 2012 draft budget, which assumes the fiscal deficit to moderate to 8.5% of GDP in 2011 and to 6.8% of GDP in 2012.