NEWS

Tsipras to see local officials as decree dispute heats up

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to meet regional governors and mayors in Athens on Saturday in an attempt to defuse a political row that has erupted as a result of the government’s decision to force local authorities to transfer their cash reserves to the Bank of Greece.

The legislative decree making it mandatory for the governors and mayors to hand over the money was due to be voted through Parliament Friday night after two days of intense and, at times, combative debate.

Comments Friday by Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis, in which he suggested that the opposition parties were representing Greece’s lenders rather than voters’ interests, sparked a furious row between MPs. PASOK’s Andreas Loverdos later claimed that he was subjected to verbal abuse by three SYRIZA lawmakers.

New Democracy deputy Kyriakos Mitsotakis accused the government of creating a confrontational atmosphere to prepare the ground for a possible “rupture” with lenders.

Tsipras has a task on his hands to convince local authorities to transfer what could be as much as 2 billion euros in cash reserves to the Bank of Greece. Mayors held a symbolic protest in front of Parliament yesterday and are demanding guarantees from the prime minister that municipal funds will not be lost but returned to the local authorities within a fixed time period.