New International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has called on Greek politicians to unite ahead of the vote on the country’s £25bn austerity package.
The package, proposed by prime minister George Papandreou, of tax increases and spending cuts, must be passed in separate votes today and tomorrow for the country to receive the next instalment of the 110bn euro bail-out from the IMF and EU agreed 12 months ago.
Lagarde, who was appointed chief of the IMF yesterday, called on Greek politicians to unite to prevent the country going into a debt default.
She said: “The country’s destiny is at stake. If I have a message this evening about Greece, it is a call to Greek opposition to join in national unity with the party which is currently in power.”
There are fears that if the package is not approved, Greece could run out of money within weeks.According to the FT, Greek policymakers have warned that they do not have a plan B if the package fails.
One the policymakers said: “We don’t have a plan B, we don’t have a plan Omega.”
The package has been met with an anti-cut rally as well as a general 48-hour strike against the planned austerity measures. Unions are angry that the package could impose taxes on those earning minimum wages at a time when other cuts have seen unemployment rise to 16 per cent.
Opposition leader Antonis Samaras has claimed that the thinking behind the package was flawed and that tax rates should be lowered, not raised, in a bid to stimulate the economy.
Papandreous party currently holds a slim majority, with 155 seats of the 300 in parliament.