MPs have second thoughts on grants

Following objections by political parties to Parliament’s controversial decision to give dozens of former MPs 3,000 euros a month over the next two years to cover their lost incomes, the speaker of the House said yesterday she was suspending the measure so it could be discussed further. The move to grant the payments to 65 MPs who lost their seats or did not stand for re-election in the 2004 general election was announced by Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday. However, all four parliamentary parties yesterday asked for the move, which attracted criticism from the press and some former deputies, to be scrapped. During a parliamentary debate, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis also agreed that the decision should not be put into effect. Although Psarouda-Benaki acquiesced and said that MPs would be allowed to re-examine the issue, she appeared confused by the parties’ stance, since they had approved the measure in the first place. «This is not a matter that just came up the day before yesterday and led to an immediate decision. It has been discussed repeatedly…and the final decision was reached before Easter,» she said. All four party leaders also raised objections to the payments, which would total some 4.68 million euros. Asked whether they had known about the measure, Psarouda-Benaki said: «Is it possible for MPs to say ‘yes’ to such an important decision and their leaders not to know about it? If this is the case then something is not right with the parliamentary groups.»