Tsakalotos tables amendment on wages as vote nears

Tsakalotos tables amendment on wages as vote nears

MPs are due to start debating in Parliament’s full assembly on Saturday the multi-bill containing a series of measures that have angered opposition parties but which the government is hoping will not lead to any defections in Sunday’s vote.

The omnibus bill was approved at the committee level on Friday but only with the support of government lawmakers. Deputies from SYRIZA and coalition partner Independent Greeks seemed unwilling on Friday to publicly defend the wide-ranging collection of legislation, including 1 percent of gross domestic product in tax increases, the creation of a new privatization fund and the sale of nonperforming loans.

The job of defending the draft legislation was left to government ministers but even Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who was in a combative mood on Thursday, the first day of debate, gave a more measured performance before the economic affairs committee.

“I cannot make predictions about what will happen at the Eurogroup [on Tuesday],” he said when questioned about whether the voting of the multi-bill would secure the next bailout disbursement from Greece’s lenders and move the discussion on debt relief forward.

“I think we are close to a very good solution. In a week or 10 days, we will know what we will get on the debt, what the first disbursement will be and if the agreement will be a good one,” added the minister.

Tsakalotos also submitted on Friday an amendment that freezes for two years, from the end of 2016, the wages of all public sector employees who are in the so-called “special wage grids.” This includes judges, armed forces personnel and police officers. The amendment aims to generate another 118 million euros in savings in 2017 and 2018.

New Democracy president Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday gave a foretaste of what Sunday’s leaders’ debate will be like when he labeled the creation of the privatization fund “an unprecedented loss of national sovereignty.”

Speaking to businessmen in Thessaloniki, he warned the entrepreneurs not to expect the current government to solve the country’s problems. “Today, there is only one solution and that is for the current government to leave as soon as possible,” said the conservative chief.

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