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Greece submits reforms to parliament, aiming to unlock last bailout loans

Greece submitted a draft bill to parliament outlining reforms in the energy, pension and labor sectors as the government races to secure the last loans from its international bailout program.

Athens is keen to pass a final review by its creditors ahead of a Eurogroup meeting on June 21, where it is also hoping for progress on a deal on further debt relief to be implemented after the current bailout program expires in August.

If it gets the green light from the review and Eurogroup, it will receive about 12 billion euros ($14 billion) of new loans.

Greece’s current loan program, its third since 2010, is worth up to 86 billion euros. So far, Athens has received 46 billion euros in aid, and the Eurogroup has yet to decide on what it will do with the remaining funds, once it has paid out the final 12 billion of loans.

Among other reforms, the bill includes measures to expedite privatizations in the energy sector, the reduction of state spending on pensions and labor market reforms including arbitration when there is a dispute between employers and staff.

It also outlines measures for the post bailout period such as extra pension cuts in 2019 and lowering the tax exempt threshold in 2020.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill in the coming week.

The government also submitted to parliament its fiscal plan for 2019-2022, projecting higher than targeted primary surpluses on an annual basis.

Greece has received about 260 billion euros in emergency loans since 2010 in exchange for unpopular austerity measures and reforms. The money has kept it afloat but has also increased its debt, which now stands at 180 percent of GDP.

The government wants to emerge from the bailout without requesting a precautionary credit line or extra financial aid. It has been building a cash buffer and wants to be able to service its debt with funds raised directly from markets.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Mark Potter)

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