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Greek parliament approves 2012 austerity budget

Greek minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos speaks during

Greek minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos speaks during a parliament session about the next year's state budget, in Athens, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Credit: AP

ATHENS, Greece - Greek lawmakers have approved next year's austerity budget, extending tough spending cuts that have sparked a series of often violent protests.

The 2012 budget passed early Wednesday foresees a fourth year of recession, but also projects a modest primary surplus — a surplus excluding interest payments on debt — for the first time in years.

Debt-crippled Greece's financial woes have roiled the euro, with Europe's single currency facing its largest crisis since it went into circulation in 2002.

The country has been relying for financial survival on billions of euros (dollars) in rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010. In return, Greece cut pensions and salaries while repeatedly hiking taxes to reduce its bloated budget deficits.


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