NEWS

New multi-bill with prior actions heads to Parliament

TAGS: Politics, Economy

The government is expected to submit a new multi-bill to Parliament on Friday featuring some of the so-called prior actions that Greece must implement to unlock the next tranche of 2.8 billion euros in rescue loans.

The measures on the bill, which will be debated over the next few days before going to a vote on Tuesday, include the abolition of all remaining exemptions in health contributions for pensions, the liberalization of the electricity market and the inclusion of a series of state organizations in Greece’s privatization portfolio.

Those organizations include the Public Power Corporation, the Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP), the Thessaloniki Water and Sewerage Company (EYATH), the Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELBO), Attiko Metro and Buildings’ Infrastructures SA.

The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) was on the original list but the government removed it, citing state security.

The state-run power grid operator ADMIE was also on the list but the process for its privatization is a complex one and will be done gradually, according to government sources.

The bill is widely expected to pass through Parliament as the coalition retains a slim but solid majority in the House and though some lawmakers often air their grievances before votes, they rarely defect from the government’s line.

Beyond its legislative obligations, the Greek government has also promised creditors that it will tie up a series of loose ends. These include the appointment of a supervisory board for the new privatization fund.

Of the five members on the board, Athens can appoint three but its proposals to date have been rejected by creditors.

Athens is keen to wrap up its second bailout review and start talks with creditors on debt relief. In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reiterated Greece’s call for a lightening of its dues, noting that “one way or the other there should really be a breakthrough by the end of the year.”

Tsipras also predicted growth of up to 0.4 percent this year, well above Eurostat’s forecast of a 0.3 percent contraction, citing strong government revenues and tourism inflows.

He said he believed the economy would bounce back further in 2017.

Expressing hopes that Greece could be included in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program within the next six months, he said the next step after that would be to test the markets’ appetite for Greek debt in 2017. “I think that will be a strong message.

We will be ready to prepare the procedure to issue bonds,” he said.

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