PM defends contentious bills ahead of House vote

PM defends contentious bills ahead of House vote

“The vast majority of citizens, with some reservations of course, acknowledges our hard work for progressive changes in difficult circumstances,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the Parliamentary group of his ruling leftist SYRIZA party on Friday, ahead of a Sunday vote on thorny tax and social security legislation.

“Our aim is not just to close the review – that is something that could be achieved easily as in previous years – but to fully comply by our commitments,” Tsipras said of an ongoing review by the country’s creditors of the government’s progress in implementing the terms of a new bailout deal.

Tsipras defended legislation overhauling the country’s ailing social security system, which foresees higher contributions for workers and the merger of most of the country’s professional funds. He said the bill “puts the social security system back on the track of sustainability, without reducing main pensions, without cutting a single euro from the overwhelming majority of pensioners.”

The leftist prime minister also defended the coalition’s decision to move up the parliamentary vote on the new legislation to Sunday, ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, saying that “we had enough time to conduct a dialogue with all the interested parties and to make improvements.”

Tsipras added that the new tax bill, which includes hikes to the top rate of value-added tax from 23 to 24 percent as well as on taxes on a range of products and services, foresees a “fairer distribution of the burden.”

The prime minister hopes to rally SYRIZA lawmakers to support the legislation, as the coalition of the leftist party with junior partner Independent Greeks relies on just a slim majority of three votes in the 300-seat House.

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