MPs clash over offshore provision

MPs clash over offshore provision

Lawmakers on Wednesday ratified an amendment revoking a controversial provision – included in an omnibus bill last month – that removed a blanket ban on MPs and public officials from being involved in offshore firms, setting the stage for an acrimonious bout between the government and opposition New Democracy, whose deputies stormed out before the vote, citing their disagreement and procedural irregularities.

The amendment was voted through by 190 out of 197 MPs who remained behind in the 300-seat Parliament after conservative lawmakers walked out saying the amendment was “unconstitutional and anti-EU” as it “limits the economic liberty of citizens and violates basic principles governing the way the European Union operates and demonizes the entrepreneurship of political figures’ relatives.”

Senior ND MPs charged that SYRIZA had lost the moral high ground, citing a 60-day time frame that allows public officials to pull out of any offshore interests they may have.

This was done, they said, to give time to government officials to “transfer their companies and to complete their devious designs,” while deputy Nikos Dendias called the process a mockery which “we cannot be a part of” before giving the sign to his fellow conservative to walk out.

This drew a scornful response from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“Why did New Democracy turn tail? Why did it leave?” he asked. “There are two likely explanations: either because they realized they would suffer huge losses in the vote by roll call, or because they were in a rush to meet the 60-day deadline and arrange their affairs,” Tsipras said.

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