Greece passes 2013 austerity budget

A woman holds an IMF banner in front of the Parliament in Athens on Sunday Nov. 11, 2012. Hundreds of protesters were converging on the Greek capital's main square outside Parliament on Sunday evening, as lawmakers debated the 2013 budget, which includes pension and salary cuts demanded by the country's international creditors in order for them to approve the next vital batch of rescue loans. Lawmakers were to vote at midnight or shortly after, and the legislation is expected to pass. The vote comes four days after a separate bill of deep spending cuts and tax hikes for 2013-14 squeaked past with a narrow majority in the 300-member Parliament following deep disagreements among the members of Greece's three-party coalition government.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The passage is an essential step in Greece's effort to stop the country from going into bankruptcy.

ATHENS, Greece — Greek lawmakers have approved the country's 2013 austerity budget, an essential step in Greece's efforts to persuade its international creditors to unblock a vital rescue loan installment without which the country will go bankrupt.

The approval by majority vote early Monday comes four days after a separate bill of deep spending cuts and tax hikes over the next two years squeaked past with a narrow majority in the 300-member Parliament following severe disagreements among the three parties in the governing coalition.

Finance ministers from the 17 eurozone countries meet in Brussels later Monday, with Greece high on the agenda.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said international creditors won't be rushed into approving the loan disbursement.