Gov’t seeks to mend rift over milk provision in reform bill

The government’s general secretary Panayiotis Baltakos, a close aide to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, on Friday met with Alternate Agricultural Development Minister Maximos Harakopoulos in a bid to overcome the latter’s opposition to a provision in a multi-bill of reforms agreed with the troika that extends the shelf life of fresh milk.

The provision is one in a series of competition-boosting measures demanded by the troika to boost competitiveness in the sluggish Greek economy. But Harakopoulos, a conservative MP, opposes the reform, expressing fears that it will harm Greek dairy producers, and has indicated he could resign if the provision is not revoked.

Several PASOK MPs also have expressed their opposition to the milk provision and have threatened to vote against it in Parliament, a move that could test the cohesion of the government which has a slim majority in Parliament.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was to brief PASOK MPs on the milk provision, and other reforms agreed with the troika, later on Friday.