NEWS

Frenzy of amendments, handouts as elections loom

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU, GIORGOS BOURDARAS

TAGS: Politics, Economy

With just over a week to go until local authority and European elections, the government on Thursday pushed several legislative amendments through Parliament, facilitating professionals and public sector workers, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heralded the latest in a series of handouts. 

A total of 16 amendments were approved yesterday, after being tagged on to a Health Ministry bill regarding donations to the capital’s Penteli Children’s Hospital – a tactic that drew widespread criticism from the political opposition. 

Officials of leftist SYRIZA countered that the reforms had been long pending and required approval without delay as Parliament will be relatively inactive during the week before the May 26 elections (and probably the week after too in the event of a second round of polls). 

One of the reforms brought to Parliament by a group of SYRIZA MPs who are all pharmacists by trade grants pharmacies exemption from operating on certain public holidays; to date local pharmaceutical unions have determined which pharmacies operate on those days. 

There is also concern about the fiscal impact of some of the other amendments. Yet more foresee the transfer of public sector workers between departments. 

Meanwhile, a day after MPs approved a series of relief measures including pension bonuses and tax cuts, the prime minister heralded a 10 percent increase ino the salaries of school cleaners, while also announcing that their jobs would henceforth be categorized as hazardous and unhealthy which merit a special state bonus and that their contracts would have a two-year duration.

Tsipras made the announcement after receiving a delegation of school cleaners at the Maximos Mansion.

Meanwhile, in line with government planning, some 1 billion euros in pension handouts and other relief measures are to be disbursed over the coming week.

The so-called 13th pension is to be paid out to some 2.5 million pensioners early next week. Even regular pensions that had been scheduled for disbursement on May 28 are to be paid out before the elections.

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