Greece, Portugal and the euro: In the dumps

ONCE again a fragile Greek government has pushed delayed reforms through parliament at the behest of the European Union and the IMF even as angry protesters in the square outside demand its resignation. At stake was a desperately needed €6.8 billion slice of Greece’s bail-out. The vote on July 17th to cut 15,000 civil-service jobs and overhaul the tax system was close, mainly because Antonis Samaras, the centre-right prime minister, has seen his majority cut to just five seats after the small Democratic Left party pulled out of his three-party coalition.Mr Samaras had to produce a last-minute ace to win over dissidents. Hours before the vote, he announced that an unpopular 23% value-added tax on restaurants, cafés and bars would be temporarily cut to 13% on August 1st. If this produces more revenue, as the finance ministry predicts, it will stay. The EU and IMF are sceptical but ready to try it. The announcement came just before Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, visited Athens to urge the Greeks to stick to reforms and to unveil a German-Greek fund to back small Greek companies.Mr Samaras’s slimmed-down coalition of his New Democracy party and the…

via The Economist: Europe|eur


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