Tsakalotos faces MPs as new multi-bill of reforms goes to House amid debt debate

Tsakalotos faces MPs as new multi-bill of reforms goes to House amid debt debate

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is on Wednesday to start appealing for the support of SYRIZA MPs for a new multi-bill of reforms that Greece must push into law on Sunday if it is to secure rescue loans.

The bill, which introduces new tax hikes, a new privatization fund and new rules for nonperforming loans, is to go to Parliament Wednesday so MPs can start debating it. Meanwhile Tsakalotos has been tasked with addressing leftist MPs at a session of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group to overcome any objections to the reforms.

Deputies will also be called on to vote on a contingency mechanism for automatically cutting state spending, which is still being discussed with Greece’s creditors.

The vote is expected to pass as none of the coalition’s 153 MPs has indicated they will oppose it.

Most opposition parties, including conservative New Democracy, intend to vote against the bill. But although ND rejects the new taxes, it has indicated that it will support the creation of a privatization agency and the rules for the management of NPLs.

In an interview with France 24 on Tuesday, ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated this position while criticizing the government’s reform potential.

“We have profound disagreement with the policy mix that is proposed by Mr [Alexis] Tsipras for the simple reason that it relies almost exclusively on taxation rather than spending cuts,” he said. Tsipras “is not a true reformer,” he is “a true populist,” he added, claiming that reforms will not be enforced “because Mr Tsipras does not believe in them.”

Apart from the new measures and the contingency mechanism, another subject of debate is the issue of Greece’s debt. The International Monetary Fund has proposed that Greece should not pay interest or principal on bailout loans until 2040 and that the interest rate on loans be fixed at 1.5 percent for 30 to 40 years, the Wall Street Journal revealed Tuesday.

The proposal is not expected to go down well with Germany, which is reluctant to offer debt relief. A European official told reporters in Brussels Tuesday that the proposal “is not an attractive solution.”

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