Multi-bill to reach Parliament on Thursday

All the actions the government must take to allow for the disbursement of bailout tranches totaling 8.8 billion euros are included in the multi-bill that the Finance Ministry will likely table in Parliament on Thursday, so that it can be passed into law by Sunday.

If everything goes according to plan, the vote on the bill will be followed on Monday by the approval of the disbursement of the first 2.8 billion euros by the Euro Working Group of eurozone finance ministry officials. The rest will be disbursed on May 13 (4.2 billion euros by the Eurogroup) and in the second half of May by the International Monetary Fund (1.8 billion euros).

On Wednesday Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras ruled out the inclusion of a clause for a reduction in value-added tax on food catering from 23 to 13 percent, as PASOK requested on Tuesday. “That is not possible. The negotiation is over now,” Stournaras said upon exiting the prime minister’s office. He added that the measure could be reviewed in June should fiscal developments remain positive.

The multi-bill is set to include a series of significant legislative initiatives from a number of ministries that will in essence ratify the details of the latest agreement Athens has reached with its international creditors.

Among the measures included are a cut in the rate of the special property tax paid through electricity bills by 15 percent and a provision for expired debts to the tax and social security authorities to be paid in as many as 48 installments, with an annual interest rate of 8.75 percent. Taxpayers with debts of up to 5,000 euros, in particular, will be able to agree to an unlimited number of repayment installments provided that they pay at least 10 euros each month.

The bill also satisfies a fixed demand by the market for the offsetting of VAT returns with debts to the state, and the creation of a new system for the submission of VAT statements by companies.

Many so-called closed-shop professions are to be deregulated and there will be tax adjustments for photovoltaic systems in a bid to reduce the deficits in the electricity market.

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