Multibill prompts unease in gov’t as Stournaras insists there is no funding gap

Only a day after the government submitted a multi-bill of structural reforms to Parliament, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos held an urgent meeting on Wednesday to discuss the legislation as at least 11 MPs from New Democracy and PASOK had expressed objections to some of its provisions, particularly those that will lead to thousands of municipal employees entering a mobility scheme that could result in many of them being dismissed.

Samaras and Venizelos met last night with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and State Minister Dimitris Stamatis to assess the fallout from the multi-bill. Earlier six New Democracy deputies and five PASOK lawmakers had expressed opposition to the legislation, which will be voted on by deputies on Wednesday. The government has 157 MPs in Parliament.

Sources said that the complaints did not cause Samaras to reconsider his decision for the multi-bill to be submitted as numerous articles, each requiring a separate vote in the House. Ministers and party officials are due to meet over the next few days with New Democracy deputies and mayors to discuss their objections.

Venizelos decided not to ask for any changes to the legislation despite the fact that labor unions called a general strike for July 16 to protest the measures. Former coalition partner Democratic Left said that it would vote against some of the articles.

On Wednesday night, Stournaras weighed in on the debate about whether Greece would need further funding from the troika this year or next. In agreeing to release another 6.8 billion euros in bailout loans for Greece earlier this year, the troika had suggested that there were no concerns of Athens suffering a financing gap. However, a European Commission document leaked by Reuters yesterday indicated that Greece would be almost 4 billion euros short by the end of its program in less than 12 months time.

Stournaras, however, insisted there were no concerns about a shortfall and that there would be no need for the government to adopt further fiscal measures. “There will certainly be no new measures this year and it is almost certain that we will not take any more steps next year,” Stournaras told Skai TV.

There was, however, a blow to the Greek government’s hopes that the 50 billion euros it has borrowed to recapitalize local banks would be recorded on the European Stability Mechanism’s books rather than as national debt. Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said that there was not enough backing for the ESM to take on so-called legacy debt. “Any requests for retroactivity will soon use up the fund… It would mean a massive claim on the ESM. I don’t see enough political support for it generally,” he told the Guardian.

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