NEWS

New vote on prior actions prompts anger about Parliament's role

Opposition claims Parliament being shunned in effort to meet troika demands

Having passed legislation late on Friday that raises taxes for most Greeks, Parliament will be called upon on Monday to approve more reform laws even though the procedure adopted by the government has prompted opposition parties to accuse the coalition of bypassing the country’s democratic process.

The tax hikes, including increases in corporate and income tax, were approved by 162 coalition lawmakers following a heated debate that ended late on Friday. Passing the bill was one of the demands Greece’s lenders had made in return for further funding this month.

The other so-called prior actions needed are to be put before Parliament on Monday. However, opposition parties were angry that the coalition has decided to include the legislation in edicts, rather than bills, thereby preventing a debate.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras presented the edicts to Parliament’s economic affairs committee. He was blasted by main opposition SYRIZA’s Panayiotis Lafazanis, who accused the government of circumventing the normal democratic process with the edicts.

“You are introducing a new form of governing,” he said. “Ministers will issue edicts that will abolish Parliament’s rights and will not be debated at all. You are responsible for turning a parliamentary democracy into a parliamentary junta.”

Stournaras wants the prior actions, which include laws relating to Greece’s amended bailout agreement, tighter fiscal control over ministries and the deregulation of some sectors of the economy, to be approved on Monday as the Euro Working Group is due to begin preparations for a Eurogroup meeting on Monday, January 21. Greece is hoping that the release of the first of three tranches totaling some 18 billion euros will be approved then.

“We are observing a situation where Parliament has essentially ceased working,” said Notis Marias of Independent Greeks. “Your attitude is ‘Eurogroup uber alles [above all].’”

SYRIZA, the Communist Party and Golden Dawn walked out of the committee in protest at the manner in which the legislation was being presented.

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