Coalition ready for vote, waiting for news on debt relief

Coalition ready for vote, waiting for news on debt relief

The Greek government is expecting to have a clearer picture of what its lenders will decide in terms of debt relief measures before MPs in Athens vote next week on the package of measures agreed with the institutions.

It was revealed on Monday that the multi-bill containing the new fiscal interventions, as well as the expansionary countermeasures, will probably be submitted to Parliament on Friday and debated at committee level on Monday and Tuesday next week. The draft legislation will then be discussed in the full assembly, before lawmakers vote on Thursday, May 18.

This was the unofficial timeline given Monday by Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis. The SYRIZA MP told journalists that there was no suggestion of any coalition deputies failing to back the measures. He claimed that it is possible some opposition MPs may choose to vote for the countermeasures the government has agreed to implement in 2019 and 2020 if it is able to meet fiscal targets. The coalition seems set to submit these offset measures in separate articles of the multi-bill.

Coalition sources also claimed that following the meeting of SYRIZA’s parliamentary group last Friday, there are no expectations of a rebellion within government ranks in Parliament.

The government expects that there may be a fairly clear picture of what the creditors plan to agree on debt relief following the G7 summit in the Italian port city of Bari between May 11 and 13. The so-called Washington Group, made up of representatives of Greece’s lenders, is due to meet at the sidelines of the Bari gathering.

Athens also stresses that there could be talks between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Christine Lagarde in Beijing, where the pair may meet at the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in the Chinese capital.

Government sources underline that Tsipras will step up exchanges with key officials if he feels that talks on debt relief are not progressing at a satisfactory pace.

Before leaving for China, Tsipras is due to pay a series of visits to ministries in Athens. He will begin by dropping in at the Education Ministry on Tuesday to discuss planning for the new school year, starting in September. The government wants to ensure that there will be no teacher shortages when schools reopen after the summer break.

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