Greece's parliament early Monday approved the 2013 budget law, which included further austerity measures to secure fresh tranch of bailout from the debt-ridden country's international creditors.
A total of 167 lawmakers voted in favor of the budget which introduces a fresh round of spending cuts, 128 against and four cast blank votes with 299 MPs present in the 300-member parliament during the roll call vote which was broadcast live on local television stations.
The crucial midnight ballot followed the approval of a new package of austerity and reform measures of 13.5 billion euros (17.1 billion U.S. dollars) for 2013-2014 in a similar tumultuous debate on early Thursday, with a slim majority of 153 votes amid growing dissent inside and outside the parliament.
The parliamentary ratification of the two bills had been requested by European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors as "prerequisites" for the release of further vital aid to Greece.
Without the 31.5 billion euro (40.4 billion U.S. dollars) disbursement, the country could run out of cash reserves on the forthcoming Friday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has warned over October.
However, as EU and IMF lenders still differ on the ways to ensure the sustainability of the Greek sovereign debt and counter the crisis, Monday's Euro Group meeting in Brussels is not due to give the "green light" for the installment, as expected until a few days ago.
In order to cover its immediate financing needs until the issue will be resolved, Greece will hold on Tuesday a new treasury bills auction as part of its monthly program of T-bills sales.
Samaras, as well as Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, who travel to Brussels this week, expressed confidence while addressing the parliament ahead of the vote on Sunday night that Greece will receive the aid in time to stave off disorderly bankruptcy.
The improved outcome of the vote on the budget in comparison to Thursday's result eases scenarios of a possible collapse of the three-party coalition government which could deteriorate Greece's prospects to avoid disaster, local political analysts commented.
The vote on the third austerity package since 2010 had revealed rifts among coalition partners and left the government with 168 seats down from the 178 seats it had won since June's national elections, after a series of "defections" in protest of certain policies.
On Thursday the coalition lost seven MPs. On Sunday the government's cohesion seemed to be on the mend, as most legislators of coalition parties voted in favor.
Meanwhile, for disgruntled recession-hit Greeks the anti-austerity struggle continues. Some 10,000 demonstrators rallied peacefully outside the parliament on Sunday evening.
Rounds of harsh salary and pension cuts have triggered waves of crippling general strikes and protests in the country since 2010. (1 euro= 1.27 U.S. dollars)
Greek parliament approves new austerity package
ATHENS, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Greek parliament narrowly approved on early Thursday a new 13.5-billion-euro (17.3 billion U.S. dollars) austerity package aiming to clear the way for the release of fresh bailout loans to the debt-laden country.
A total of 153 deputies voted in favor, 128 against and 18 cast blank votes during the roll call vote, with 299 MPs present in the 300-member assembly, Deputy Speaker Thanassis Nakos announced.