Gov’t submits multi-bill needed to secure next bailout tranche

A multi-bill bundling together a raft of reforms – including an overhaul of the tax system and a streamlining of the civil service – was submitted in Parliament on Tuesday for what promises to be a vehement debate ahead of a vote which must be held by July 19 and must be successful if Athens is to secure the release of the first sub-tranche of a 6.8-billion-euro installment of rescue funding approved by eurozone ministers on Monday.

The bill comprises 108 articles; most of these set out the details of a new tax code while others detail plans to increase the central government’s oversight of local authority spending and plug a funding shortfall of some 1 billion euros attributed to the debts of the country’s main healthcare provider (EOPYY), among other reforms.

The bill abolishes school guards and foresees the abolition, as of late September, of the municipal police force, as part of a broader plan to immediately put 12,500 civil servants in a so-called mobility scheme where they would receive a reduced wage for several months ahead of being transferred to another post in the civil service or being dismissed.

The legislation also includes a provision dictating that courts must rule by November 1 on some 6,000 appeals by civil servants on short-term contracts whose terms have expired.

As the bill goes to Parliament – which is to discuss it at the committee level before its scheduled submission to the House’s plenary session next Tuesday – the union representing local authority workers (POE-OTA) is planning to scale up its protests against the reforms. Workers are to start sit-ins at town halls and in buildings housing municipal offices across the country on Tuesday. Municipal employees are also planning to walk off the job over the weekend which will result in disruptions to garbage collection and other services.

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