Coalition MPs approve reforms needed for Greece to receive 1-bln-euro tranche

The omnibus bill needed for Greece to receive its next 1-billion-euro sub-tranche from its lenders was passed through Parliament on Wednesday despite containing some provisions that caused skepticism even within the government’s ranks.

In the end, though, 50 MPs in the House’s reduced summer session voted in favor of the collection of reforms and 47 against.

In order to achieve this result, the government had to make changes to a number of articles in the multi-bill that helped appease coalition MPs. Only one, New Democracy’s Dimitris Kyriazidis, who is a former policeman, asked to be replaced for the vote. He opposed the provision paving the way for the auxiliary pension funds of members of the emergency services and armed forces to be merged. The move could lead to supplementary pensions being halved.

Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis appealed for consensus ahead of the vote. “The multi-bill is progressive,” he said. “We cannot disagree about everything on everything.”

His message was heeded by the opposition to some extent as SYRIZA backed some elements of the legislation such as a provision to allow small businesses with a turnover of less than 10,000 euros to be exempted from value-added tax.

There was, however, an angry exchange between SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and State Minister Dimitris Stamatis after the former insisted the government’s time in power is coming to an end. The leftists believe the coalition might not be able to elect a successor to President Karolos Papoulias early next year, which would prompt national elections.

“We will take the maximum amount of time permitted and will abide by the Constitution and parliamentary rules,” said Stamatis. “The election of the next president will be decided here, in Parliament. We will go to a third round of voting if needed but hopefully we can convince you from the first round [to back the coalition’s candidate] to save time.”