BUSINESS

The last-minute changes to multi-bill that won deputies’ votes

By Dimitra Manifava and Prokopis Hatzinikolaou

A number of last-minute changes and some fine-tuning to the provisions of the multi-bill submitted to Parliament on Sunday were considered instrumental to its passage by a clear majority a few hours later. The main changes concern the milk reform, the capital gains tax, the retail price of books and Sunday opening for stores.

Pasteurized milk will have a shelf life of seven days instead of the original plan for nine and up from the five days the 1999 regulation provided for. Crucially, this seven-day period does not include the day the milk was pasteurized, as the five-day period applying to date had. This will apparently open the way for more milk imports but stops short of the original proposal for shelf life to be determined by the producer.

The new law makes it mandatory for milk packaging to clearly state the words “pasteurized milk,” the date of pasteurization, the expiry date, as well as the shelf life of the product.

The amendment has not yet received the green light from the country’s creditors and will be examined by their technical experts on April 10. However it appears to have been silently accepted by the creditors owing to fears of a parliamentary revolt that could have shaken the government.

On Sunday opening for stores, the final text changed the phrasing from “at least three” to “three” regarding the number of tourist destinations to be allowed to have stores opening on 52 Sundays per year in a pilot scheme. The floor on book prices will continue to apply not only for the first editions of Greek novels, plays, poetry and travel books, as the original text had provided for, but also translations into Greek of foreign books of the same nature, as well as children’s books.

The new law further states that salary workers and pensioners will not have to pay a 55 percent advance on their income tax if they also have revenues from property rentals, as the imposition of a tax deposit will be restricted to profits from business activity. Unpaid rent is exempted from taxable income for 2013 only, provided landlords have conceded to the state the right to collect the rents due.

The capital gains tax on property sales will not apply to real estate acquired before 1995, while for other properties the tax rate will depend on the way they were acquired in the first place, as owners receiving them as heirlooms will face a smaller capital gains tax than market buyers when they sell their assets.

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