Greek lawmakers have approved a controversial new property tax that aims to boost revenue as the country struggles to obtain a critical installment of international bailout loans that will prevent it from default.

The new tax was passed 154 votes to 143 against in the 300-member parliament.

It was announced earlier this month after international debt inspectors suspended their review of Greek reforms amid talk of missed revenue targets and delayed implementation of austerity measures.

The new tax will be charged through electricity bills to make it easier for the state to collect, instead of going through Greece's unwieldy and inefficient tax system.

Those who refuse to pay risk having their power cut off.

But the extra charge has deeply angered Greeks, who have already been through more than a year of sharp austerity that has seen salary and pension cuts and increased taxes across the board.

State electricity company unionists have threatened not to collect the tax.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou at a meeting this evening in Berlin that Germany wants a strong Greece and would do everything necessary for that.

Mr Papandreou told Mrs Merkel that Greece needed Europe's solidarity. "It is very important to receive a signal of support from our European partners," he said.

Earlier, he had promised German industrialists that Greece would meet its commitments under its EU/IMF bailout programme despite missing key fiscal targets so far.

The meeting took place amid speculation Greece will have no option but to default on part of its debt.

Addressing the business conference in the German capital this morning, Mr Papandreou said his country was not a poor one, but a mismanaged one, and that its debt crisis was an opportunity to implement long overdue reforms.

He also urged his fellow European leaders to unite and be bold in their fight to overcome the eurozone crisis.

Mr Papandreou said Greece was making a "superhuman effort" to reduce its debt mountain and called for an end to "punishment and scorn" from critics.

"The persistent criticisms levelled at Greece are deeply frustrating," he said.

Chancellor Merkel used a speech to the same conference to hit back at those urging Europe to introduce new economic stimulus packages to boost demand and spend its way out of the crisis.

"We need to combine economic growth with solid public finances ... we are not in favour of new stimulus programmes," she said.

"The idea that you need to boost growth by taking on ever greater debt is the wrong idea. I am deeply convinced of that," she added.

Ms Merkel insisted that the current crisis in the eurozone was not related to the common currency, but rather to the huge debt piles accumulated by euro area members.

"We don't have a euro crisis, but a debt crisis," she said.

Inspection team returning to Athens

A team of inspectors from Greece's lenders will return to Athens this week and the country will receive the €8bn aid tranche it needs to avoid bankruptcy next month, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said today.

Mr Venizelos said Mr Papandreou would send a letter outlining a new austerity drive to the team from Troika.

Mr Venizelos said eurozone finance ministers would then discuss and authorise the aid tranche.

"The disbursement will take place, and it will take place on time," Mr Venizelos said.

"We should make a super effort to achieve our fiscal targets, to drastically cut our primary deficit in 2011, to take the additional measures for the 2012 budget, to achieve primary surpluses in 2012 for the first time after many years, so that we start entering a virtuous circle."

The inspectors will probably return to Athens tomorrow, a source close to the inspection team told Reuters today.

When asked if the Troika mission chiefs were returning to Greece this week, a source close to the inspection team said: "Yes, the review should normally resume Wednesday".

EU officials said it is too early to suggest that a comprehensive plan to tackle the eurozone debt crisis has now been worked out.

Officials accept that a variety of ideas are being discussed including ways to increase the bailout fund to help affected countries and recapitalise banks.

The Troika suspended a visit in Athens earlier in September after Greece failed to meet its fiscal pledges under its European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout plan.