NEWS

Despite reluctance of many coalition MPs, budget expected to pass

A vehement debate on next year’s budget is expected to culminate in another clash between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Saturday night ahead of a midnight vote in Parliament which is expected to push the blueprint into law despite the reluctance of many coalition MPs to back further economic measures.

Although government MPs are expected to toe the government line and back the budget, many made it clear that they would not offer the same support for other contentious reforms such as a new unified property tax which is expected to be submitted to the House on Tuesday.

“The fact that we will give you our vote of confidence is not a reason for you to sleep soundly,” New Democracy MP and former Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis told Parliament, and policymakers in particular. “We are waiting for the property tax,” he said, adding, “Your woes will not end until Parliament closes for the holidays.”

In an apparent dig at Greece’s troika of international creditors, which have not approved the budget, PASOK deputy Thanos Moraitis remarked that “some are dreaming about new measures in three or four months,” noting however that “there will be no government majority to support them.”

Several other coalition deputies lashed out against the Finance Ministry – chiefly its failure to crack down on high-level tax evasion – with many directing their anger against Minister Yannis Stournaras in person following his recent claims that Greeks are “undertaxed” in comparison to other European countries.

In comments later, following talks with the prime minister, Stournaras said, “It is not the role of the finance minister to be pleasant but to be effective, and we have a difficult task ahead of us.”

A controversial unified property tax, which has been revised due to objections by dozens of coalition MPs, is to be presented in Parliament on Tuesday. A legislative amendment foreseeing the extension of restrictions on home foreclosures is expected to be tabled on the same day. Leftist SYRIZA has proposed an alternative amendment foreseeing a one-year extension to a current ban on foreclosures on primary residences with an objective value of less than 200,000 euros.