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Tax pain ahead for Greeks as parliament approves increase

By Elinda Labropoulou and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
January 12, 2013 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Austerity measures designed to lift Greece out of its financial crisis have sparked protests across the country.
Austerity measures designed to lift Greece out of its financial crisis have sparked protests across the country.
  • Greek lawmakers approve a new tax bill intended to raise 2.3 billion euros
  • The move is likely to anger many Greeks struggling under austerity measures
  • An anarchist group says it planted makeshift bombs outside the homes of journalists Friday
  • It accuses the media of representing a corrupt system and supporting the elite

Athens (CNN) -- Greece's parliament approved a tax increase Saturday that should add to the government's revenue, but is likely to anger citizens opposed to the country's austerity measures.

The new tax bill, passed in the early hours, is needed to help the debt-stricken country meet its commitments to international creditors, state-run ANA news agency reported Saturday.

The legislation makes it compulsory for all taxpayers to lodge an income tax declaration while raising property and corporate taxes, the news agency said.

The new tax bill is one of "fiscal necessity" and will ensure that shortfalls are met in a socially fair way, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told lawmakers ahead of the vote, ANA reported.

The measure, intended to raise an extra 2.3 billion euros ($3 billion) this year, is part of a raft of measures enabling Greece to qualify for further international bailout funds.

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The vote by lawmakers came a day after arsonists critical of the country's media coverage of the crisis attacked the homes of five prominent journalists in Athens using makeshift bombs.

An anarchist group angry at the Greek media coverage of the country's economic crisis claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement posted on a leftist website.

It was the first such coordinated action in Greece since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008.

The anarchist group, calling itself Lovers of Lawlessness, described the media as "the official representation" of a corrupt system and said it was time for "fear to change camp."

The group said the five journalists targeted were "double tongued," because they were "using a pro-workers rhetoric, but at the same time winking mischievously at their political bosses."

All five journalists, including two broadcast news presenters, work for mainstream media outlets.

"Only small material damage was caused by the explosions," police spokesman Christos Manouras told CNN.

Friday's predawn attacks came after a number of recent media reports on Greece's "triangle of power," providing detailed accounts of the strong links among the country's financial and political elite and the media.

The Greek government has condemned the attacks. Spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said they were "an attempt to terrorize the media," which he described "as a vital part of our democracy".

It is the second time the group has targeted journalists. In July, it also claimed responsibility for an arson attack outside a restaurant owned by a prominent Greek journalist.

Greece's international partners agreed on a second bailout program late last year, and gave the government elected in June more time to meet its budget commitments.

But the austerity measures imposed to tackle the country's debt crisis have provoked violent protests in recent months and mass strikes by public and private sector workers.

The Greek economy has shrunk by about a fifth since 2008, adding more than 500,000 people to the jobless total in a country with a population of 10 million. The unemployment rate has more than tripled over the same period and stood at 26% as of September.

Journalist Elinda Labropoulou reported from Athens, Amir Ahmed contributed in Atlanta and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

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