Gov’t tweaks multi-bill before vote following objections

Gov’t tweaks multi-bill before vote following objections

Ahead of a vote on Thursday night on a multi-bill of reforms that should finally unlock a 2-billion-euro loan tranche and another 10 billion euros for Greek banks, the government was rushing to make some changes last night to secure coalition support.

Alternate Finance Ministers Tryfon Alexiadis and Giorgos Houliarakis held talks with representatives of Greece’s international creditors following protests by junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) over a proposal for a consumption tax on wine.

The government proposed the tax as one of a series of measures to offset a value-added tax on private education that it was obliged to withdraw amid protests.

Following objections by ANEL and a handful of SYRIZA MPs, Alexiadis said he would review the wine tax and present a new proposal to Parliament on Thursday.

According to sources, the new proposal is likely to propose a smaller tax on wine (of 0.15 euros rather than the 0.30 euros originally mooted) along with another measure to cover the difference.

On the basis of Alexiadis’s pledge, a cross-parliamentary committee approved the bill on Wednesday.

The multi-bill also includes a compromise with creditors on foreclosures, foreseeing full protection for 25 percent of mortgage holders in arrears on their payments, with another 35 percent of homeowners eligible for support subject to a series of conditions.

Although the deal upset many coalition MPs, government sources expressed confidence on Wednesday that lawmakers would back the bill as its passage is crucial to keep the recapitalization of Greek banks on track.

There were fears that ANEL MPs might vote “present” but that idea appeared to have been abandoned late on Wednesday.

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