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Samaras urges greater unity as list of dissenting coalition MPs grows

A schoolteacher chants anti-austerity slogans with a loudspeaker during a sitting protest in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, on Friday.

Another two coalition MPs voiced objections on Friday to the multi-bill the government plans to submit to Parliament as part of its commitment to the troika, prompting Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to express disappointment that the two-party administration is not united in the wake of Greece’s agreement with its lenders.

PASOK’s Thanos Moraitis and Nikos Sifounakis were added yesterday to the four other coalition lawmakers who are unhappy that the government is planning to change the rules on fresh milk. “Some people want to hand over the keys to the country to importers,” said Moraitis.

This is one of several liberalization measures and other reforms that are to be included in a multi-bill due to be tabled in Parliament on Monday, March 31. The draft law will have two or three articles. This means that the provision on milk, along with other measures aimed at enhancing competition, will be included in an article with more of the reforms agreed with the troika. If the government fails to gather the required votes, it would mean that the whole article would be rejected, thereby undermining the deal with Greece’s lenders.

The coalition currently has 153 seats in the 300-seat Parliament but the fact that six Golden Dawn lawmakers are in pretrial custody means that it would need a maximum of 148 votes to approve the multi-bill.

Two independent MPs, Andreas Loverdos and Christos Aidonis, have indicated they would vote in favor of the whole package of reforms.

The tension that has developed since an agreement with the troika was reached on Monday was uppermost in Samaras’s mind as he addressed journalists in Brussels at the end of the European Council. “It is unfair and saddening that there are dissenting voices at a time when Greece is spreading its wings to get out of the rut,” he said.

Also of concern to the government is that Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Maximos Harakopoulos is considering resigning if the government proceeds with plans to extend the shelf life of fresh milk. Samaras’s close aide, Takis Baltakos, held talks on Friday with Harakopoulos on this issue.

ekathimerini.com , Friday March 21, 2014 (20:12)  
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