PM tries to appease mayors, regional governors over cash bill

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met regional governors and mayors over the weekend in a bid to overcome their objections to a decision by the government forcing local authorities to hand over their cash reserves to tackle a looming cash crunch.

Tsipras received visiting governors and mayors in separate meetings on Saturday just a few hours after MPs approved a controversial bill obliging state bodies – ranging from local authorities to universities – to hand over their spare cash.

Speaking after talks with Tsipras, Costas Agorastos, the regional governor of Thessaly and head of the country’s union of regional governors, indicated that a compromise had been reached. He said Tsipras had reassured the governors that the move is “urgent and temporary” and that a measure will go to Parliament to reverse the decree in due course. “We are here to help the national effort,” he said. “But on the condition that things will change in a reasonable period of time.”

But many local authority leaders stood their ground. The mayor of Aristoteli in Halkidiki, northern Greece, resigned late on Friday, citing personal reasons.

According to the controversial decree, local authority reserves will be used to “cover the state’s urgent needs, amounting to 3 billion euros over the next 15 days.”

The motion passed with 156 votes from coalition MPs following a furious session in Parliament on Friday night.

Tsipras is to meet on Tuesday with Attica Governor Rena Dourou, who was on a visit to the US last week. Last month the Attica Regional Authority donated 80 million euros to the state.

Universities also object to the decree and rectors met on the weekend to discuss their response. Technical college directors are to meet Monday.

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