Gov’t does U-turn after outcry over offshore law

Gov’t does U-turn after outcry over offshore law

After days of vehement criticism for slipping a provision into a recent multi-bill of reforms that removed a blanket ban on MPs and public officials from being involved in offshore firms, the government on Tuesday backed down and is to table a legislative amendment in Parliament revoking the provision on Wednesday.

The provision, which was voted into law last month as part of an omnibus bill of reforms demanded by creditors, had slipped the attention of many prominent government officials.

Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos admitted on Tuesday in comments to Real FM that he had not been aware he was approving such a provision in the vote on May 22.

SYRIZA MP Giorgos Dimaras publicly apologized for not noticing the provision.

In a bid to curb the mini crisis, government officials indicated on Tuesday that they would table a new amendment in Parliament that explicitly bans the involvement of any politician – minister, MP, party leader, MEP, mayor or prefect – in any companies not based in Greece, offshore or otherwise.

The opposition, which lambasted the government for days over the faux pas, is expected to insist on a vote by roll call.

Sources at conservative New Democracy indicated that the gaffe by the government dealt a huge blow to the “moral advantage” the leftist-led administration had purported to have over other political parties.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to address the House on Wednesday for what is expected to be a tense session.

The government not only faced criticism from the opposition but from within its own ranks too. Avgi newspaper, the mouthpiece of leftist SYRIZA, which leads the governing coalition, ran the headline “Offside with offshore” on Tuesday, referring to the government’s slip-up.

Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili sought to play down the damage, saying the administration was doing “the right thing” by preparing an amendment for Parliament on Wednesday.

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