Race to pass bailout legislation

A parliamentary committee late on Wednesday approved legislation that will pave the way for Greece to conduct a large debt restructuring scheme but this was just the first of many political hurdles that have to be overcome over the next few days so Athens can be in a position to claim the new bailout agreed with its eurozone counterparts this week.

The legislation approved by PASOK and New Democracy MPs on Parliament?s economic affairs committee Wednesday contains the collective action clauses (CACs) that could be activated if Greece is unable to convince enough of its bondholders to take part in a voluntary swap that would reduce its debt by more than 100 billion euros.

The bill, which was rejected by opposition deputies, is to be voted on by Parliament?s plenary session on Thursday. Several other pieces of legislation must be approved by the House before next week, as eurozone finance ministers are expected to meet on Wednesday or Thursday to rubber-stamp the deal to give Greece another 130 billion euros in loans. The meeting will take place ahead of a European Union leaders? summit in Brussels on March 1 and 2.

Other legislation tabled in Parliament Wednesday sets out the 3.2 billion euros in spending cuts that Greece will have to make this year.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos briefed President Karolos Papoulias Wednesday on the details of the loan agreement. ?If we finish our job in the next two months and if we then put in place the program successfully, we will overcome the crisis,? he told reporters, forecasting stable growth in 2014 and 2015.

Papoulias was involved last week in a spat with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and Greece?s relations with Berlin showed further strain Wednesday as a row broke out between Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and Germany?s Economy Minister Philipp Roesler. Chrysochoidis objected to Roesler claiming that the Greek minister kept promising to solve problems ?in two weeks? but consistently failed to deliver.

?I understand that Mr Roesler, as he is leader of the Liberal Party, is facing acute problems in the polls, so he attempts to turn on Greece to become likable to German voters,? Chrysochoidis told Mega TV.

?This is unacceptable. I am sorry for his behavior,? he added.