Bill tweaks rile deputies in Parliament

Bill tweaks rile deputies in Parliament

Opposition parties raised objections on Wednesday regarding the raft of last-minute amendments the government has tagged onto other legislation over the past few days.

A total of 33 lengthy amendments were added to two draft laws, submitted by the Justice and Digital Policy ministries, that were debated by MPs in Parliament on Wednesday. In many cases, the amendments were completely unrelated to the issues addressed in the bills.

Among other things, the extra legislation concerned the opening of pharmacies and the funding of political parties via coupons.

“We are facing a desert storm of ministerial amendments,” said New Democracy MP Nikitas Kaklamanis, who was presiding over a debate about the Digital Policy Ministry’s bill, which was about the creation of a Greek space agency. Twenty amendments were added to the bill.

“The amendments mean that nobody can understand the exact detail that is hidden behind a sentence that is difficult or impossible to understand,” said PASOK MP Andreas Loverdos, who warned that the amendment regarding asylum applications could have implications for the eight Turkish soldiers who have been held in custody in Greece following a failed coup in their homeland last year.

Coalition lawmakers rejected the complaints, arguing that previous governments used the method of amendments more frequently and that the measures in question related to matters that either addressed serious social issues or need to be resolved before the end of the year.

Following the votes on the two bills, the government is expected to rest briefly before having to vote a multi-bill of measures through Parliament in early January. The omnibus bill will contain legislation linked to dozens of prior actions that need to be completed as part of the third program review.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Wednesday that the passing of the multi-bill would allow Greece’s lenders to begin discussing debt relief and the country’s exit from the program.

Tzanakopoulos said that the discussion about these issues, as well as the form of monitoring after the bailout concludes next summer, will be the coalition’s main areas of focus in the coming months.