Ministerial dispute over taxi bill

A bill liberalizing the taxi drivers? sector has caused a major dispute in the ranks of the interim government headed by Lucas Papademos.

Alternate Defense Minister Yiannis Ragousis, who previously held the transport ministry portfolio, was the sole member of the Cabinet to vote against a draft bill which is expected to be submitted to Parliament in the near future.

Ragousis, who argued that the proposed reforms protect the narrow interests of certain groups, released a series of emails exhanged with the troika -- the European Union, the European Central Bank and the Intenational Monetary Fund ? to prove that European and IMF officials had approved a previous draft bill carrying his signature.

Based on calculation taking into account population and environmental criteria, the new bill does not foresee fresh cab licenses in Attica, though new permits will be issued elsewhere around Greece. Licenses are also expected to be issued for vehicles seating five to eight people which will not carry meters.

Speaking on Skai on Friday, Ragousis spoke of the ?politics of exception? and noted that the truck drivers will be up next with demands for their sector to be exempted from total liberalization.

Responding to Ragousis, Transport Minister Makis Voridis noted that the new bill?s basic principles have already been approved by the troika, adding that on an ethical level «it would be preferable to leave any discussion with the troika to the minister in charge.»

Also speaking on Skai on Friday, the general secretary of the SATA taxi owners? union, Constantinos Dimos, said that the proposed draft bill will streamline Greek policy with the rest of Europe.