NEWS

Ministers asked to sign off on prior actions so 1-bln-euro tranche can be secured

Government officials are scrambling to bundle a set of reforms Greece has pledged to the troika into a multi-bill with the aim of voting it through Parliament in early August and securing a 1-billion-euro tranche of loan funding from foreign creditors.

With a bill for the part-privatization of the Public Power Corporation pushed through the House earlier this month, officials must turn their attention to the remaining five prior actions demanded by the troika in exchange for the 1-billion-euro installment.

The pending measures to be included in the draft bill are: a blueprint governing construction on forestland; a plan to cut bureaucracy which has already been put up for public debate by Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis; the induction into Greece’s single auxiliary social security fund (ETEAM) of the pension funds of police officers and armed forces staff; the abolition as of January 1, 2015 of a series of so-called third-party taxes such as levies on passenger ferry and theater tickets; the adoption of a new legislative framework allowing political parties to receive funding directly from enterprises but also obliging them to boost transparency and accountability.

The government aims to vote the multi-bill through Parliament by August 8, before the House’s summer session breaks.

In a bid to ensure that all the provisions of the multi-bill are inducted in good time, Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis has written to cabinet members, asking them to send him the provisions relating to the reforms they have been entrusted with overseeing by Thursday.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is said to have urged all his ministers to push forward with some 600 minor actions that Greece has pledged to complete before the troika returns to Athens in mid-September for its next official review.

Samaras is keen to ensure his government is consistent so the troika will not resist his plans to offer tax breaks in the coming months.

Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi insisted Monday that an end to austerity is in sight. “The memorandum is coming to an end,” she said, noting that Athens would honor its commitments to the troika.

In a speech to Greek industrialists late Monday, Hardouvelis also stressed that Greece would make good on reforms. He also emphasized that economic policy was the job of the government, not the judiciary, in an apparent response to a series of recent decisions by Greek courts challenging troika-imposed reforms.

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