NEWS

Tax bill voted into law after heated debate in Parliament

Parliament late on Friday approved a revenue-raising tax bill that has proved a source of friction between the coalition and SYRIZA, replacing – at least temporarily – the regular clashes between the parties over the handling of the Lagarde list.

The bill was passed into the law with the backing of the coalition’s 163 MPs following the approval of the bulk of the articles and separate votes on four articles by roll call, as requested by SYRIZA.

The legislation, which includes income tax rises for most taxpayers and a hike in corporate tax, aims to increase revenues by 2.3 billion euros over the next two years as Greece attempts to meet the bailout terms set by its lenders.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said that each euro raised from taxes would mean that a euro could be spared from public spending cuts. However, he was on the receiving end of criticism from SYRIZA, which opposes the hikes. Leftist MP Panayiotis Lafazanis accused Stournaras of being a “political terrorist.”

SYRIZA had clashed earlier with the government after one the left-wing party’s lawmakers, Dimitris Vitsas, suggested during a discussion on Skai TV that if the leftists come to power, they will try to nationalize any public assets that are sold off, including the container terminal at Piraeus port run by China’s COSCO.

“As much as the SYRIZA leader [Alexis Tsipras] tries to appear like a European by talking about serious foreign investments, he is disrobed by the actions and comments of his deputies,” said government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou.

However, Tsipras, who is due to meet German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin on Monday, suggested in an interview on Real FM Friday that he intends to tone down SYRIZA’s staunch opposition to the terms of Greece’s EU-IMF bailout and will instead try to focus on alternative policies.

“I do not need to tell you how bad the memorandum is, but what we need are solutions,” he said. “SYRIZA wants to have normal relations with the governments that play an important role in Greek and European affairs.”

“The Germans are very practical people,” he added. “They can see that SYRIZA could be the next government and they want to prepare the ground by having direct contact with us. We want the same.”

Another SYRIZA MP, Yiannis Milios, accused the government of an “unprecedented” surrendering of rights to protect its assets from creditors. He referred to the text of an amendment to Greece’s loan agreement, which is due to be submitted to Parliament on Monday as a legislative act.

The text of the amendment states that Greece “irrevocably and unconditionally waives all immunity to which it is or may become entitled, in respect of itself or its assets, from legal proceedings in relation to this Amendment Agreement, including, without limitation, immunity from suit, judgment or other order, from attachment, arrest or injunction prior to judgment, and from execution and enforcement against its assets to the extent not prohibited by mandatory law.”