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Gov't drafting multi-bill of reforms agreed with troika

Protesters chant anti-austerity slogans during a rally in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, on Wednesday, March 19. Greek civil servants, including hospital and teaching staff, started a two-day strike against austerity measures.

A day after the completion of a tortuous seven months of negotiations with Greece’s foreign creditors, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos decided on the best way of presenting the agreed-to reforms to coalition MPs to ensure the measures are voted through Parliament so that billions of euros in crucial rescue funding can be released.

According to sources, the two men agreed, during a meeting on Wednesday, that the measures should be included in one multi-bill containing two or three articles: One article will concern the plan for the continued recapitalization of Greek banks; a series of structural reforms agreed with the troika, which have yet to be detailed, will be set out in a second article; and a mini tax-bill including an added-value tax on properties will either be presented as a third article in the multi-bill or included in the second article with the structural reforms, the sources said.

Samaras and Venizelos settled on the option of a multi-bill with just two or three articles as a compromise, Kathimerini understands. Government officials originally had considered submitting the measures as one article in a bid to oblige wavering coalition lawmakers to vote “yes” or “no,” Kathimerini understands, but then decided against this approach to avoid accusations of blackmail.

The bill is expected to be submitted in Parliament next week and will go to a vote after a few days of debate. The aim is for the reforms to pass into law before April 1, when Athens is to host a eurozone summit and seek the disbursement of some 10 billion euros in rescue loans.

The debate on the bank recapitalization article is to be attended by a representative of the European Central Bank and an envoy of European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia to ensure that the plan for recapitalizing Greek banks does not deviate from European norms.

The opposition of former Prime Minister George Papandreou, and some other PASOK MPs, to the recapitalization plans has fueled concerns. Sources said Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras telephoned Papandreou on Wednesday. Papandreou reportedly said he would not decide how to vote until he has read the multi-bill.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday March 19, 2014 (21:29)  
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