NEWS

Government scrambles to draft multi-bill

Stournaras says aim is for vote on prior actions to be held by Sunday

Government officials were scrambling on Monday to draft a multi-bill containing a series of “prior actions” agreed with the troika, including a contentious streamlining of the civil service, in a bid to vote the legislation through Parliament by Sunday and secure the release of 8.8 billion euros in rescue loans.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said he would brief coalition officials on the measures on Tuesday before submitting the bill to Parliament on Thursday under an emergency procedure. The vote must take place by Sunday as next week is Holy Week ahead of Orthodox Easter and Parliament will not be sitting, Stournaras said.

He added that Greece would have to approve the prior actions in time for a Eurogroup meeting on May 13, when an installment of 6 billion euros is due to be approved.

The 2.8-billion-euro tranche is set to get the green light when the Euro Working Group meets next Monday. Sources indicated that, in the worst-case scenario, the vote could be put back to Wednesday.

Stournaras is keen to overcome objections by the two junior partners in the coalition, PASOK and Democratic Left, as cadres of both parties claim not to have been briefed about the contents of the multi-bill.

The bill will contain provisions relating to the dismissal of 15,000 civil servants by the end of 2014, the number of installments Greeks will be allowed to repay taxes or social security contributions and a 15 percent reduction on the emergency property tax. The section on the civil servants’ layoffs is expected to be detailed with provisions aimed at speeding up the disciplinary process that public servants accused of offenses must go through. There will also be incentives for older employees to take early retirement.

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