Greece says assured January aid tranche to be paid

ATHENS Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:04am EST

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has been assured that a 9.2 billion euro aid tranche due from European lenders this month is set to be disbursed after Athens approved a series of tax hikes and other reforms, its finance minister said.

The debt-laden country's EU lenders last month agreed to release 49.1 billion euros in aid to Athens by the end of March. It was given 34.3 billion euros immediately to avert bankruptcy, with the remainder to be paid in three tranches once Greece implemented reforms demanded by the lenders.

Speaking on Greek television late on Monday, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said he had been informed by Brussels that the Euro Working Group would recommend to the region's finance ministers that the January tranche be paid out.

Greece's parliament early on Saturday approved a tax reform bill scrapping many exemptions and raising the corporate rate.

On Monday it passed a bill with a set of so-called "prior actions" including benefit and salary cuts for parliamentary employees and making it easier to get taxi licences.

After months of uncertainty over the country's future in the euro zone, Greece avoided financial collapse last month after its lenders agreed to dole out more aid.

But questions remain over whether the country can continue to implement a painful austerity and reform program that has driven up unemployment, triggered mass protests and stoked anger at the fragile three-party government.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris, Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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