NEWS

PPC bill readied for Parl't as coalition finalizes prior actions

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos on Monday met to discuss a series of prior actions that Greece must honor in order to clinch two tranches of rescue loans worth 2 billion euros with talks believed to have focused on controversial plans for the part-privatization of the Public Power Corporation (PPC), which is to be debated in Parliament this week.

Two days before the “small PPC” bill goes to Parliament, the coalition leaders discussed the government’s strategy for pushing it into law while limiting the potential political damage of vehement opposition by the leftist SYRIZA and labor unions.

According to sources, there are no plans to make any major changes to the draft legislation; a few “improvements” are likely to be made in order to overcome lingering objections by some legislators and residents in areas where large power stations are based. The chief aim is to ensure that the bill adheres to the Constitution and legal framework and that it guarantees offsetting measures for local communities.

Meanwhile sources at the Maximos Mansion indicated that union threats of industrial action, which could lead to power cuts amid high temperatures and at the height of the tourist season, will not be tolerated. The government has not ruled out resorting to civil mobilization of the PPC workers if necessary.

Apart from the difficult issue of the PPC privatization, Samaras and Venizelos discussed several more prior actions that Greece has pledged to the troika, which is sending inspectors back to Athens next week. According to sources, the coalition leaders are aiming to push through the pending reforms with the aim of securing the release of two installments of rescue loans, each worth 1 billion euros, in July and August respectively.

Among the measures that remain to be finalized are the reduction of Greek pharmacists’ profit margin, a list of third-party levies which are to be abolished from next year, and a new law governing the use of forestland.

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