Greek Parliament Approves Property Tax. Greeks Protest

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Greek lawmakers approved an unpopular property tax on Tuesday. This sets the stage for the return of European Union and International Monetary Fund inspectors and the release of a new aid tranche.

All 154 of the ruling Socialist PASOK party's deputies voted in favor of the measure, winning a majority in the 300-seat parliament.

The opposition parties voted against it.

The EU and the IMF require the measure for the release of an 8-billion euro tranche Athens needs to avoid bankruptcy.

Because tax evasion is endemic in Greece, the property tax will be collected through electricity bills.

But the state-controlled company's powerful labor union has said it will try to block the tax because it was unfair to consumers.

EU/IMF inspectors, who have been growing increasingly impatient at the slow rhythm of reforms, left Greece at the beginning of the months over disagreements over what was needed to plug fiscal slippages this year and next.

Athens hope they will come back this week and give the green light for a new 8 billion euro aid tranche after talks between Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and senior IMF and EU officials in Washington over the weekend.

Greece has vowed to do what it takes to get the sixth trance of aid and announced on Monday it may close concession deals as part of its 50-billion euro privatization plan, another key condition for bailout aid.