Measures cause friction in PASOK

The implementation of a series of austerity measures the government is under pressure to impose in exchange for a multi-billion-euro international aid package has become the focus of several disputes within the ranks of the government, Kathimerini understands. According to sources, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis have clashed over the government’s plans to abolish minimum fees for lawyers. The dispute has broken out as Finance Ministry inspectors hone in on tax evasion among the country’s attorneys. Kastanidis reportedly supports the lawyers who argue that the abolition of minimum fees would not help open up the services market and could end up boosting tax evasion. Dimitris Vervesos, vice president of the Athens Bar Association, told Kathimerini that the reform would be «disastrous not just for the country’s lawyers as a whole but also for the state, which would no longer be able to use the minimum fees as a basis for the calculation of taxes.» The deregulation of the road haulage sector is another reform on the government’s agenda fueling dispute. Sources said that several government cadres have taken issue with provisions including the strict preconditions for issuing licenses, likely to cost between 30,000 and 192,000 euros for fuel truck drivers. Another bone of contention is a draft bill regarding the preparation and sale of bread in supermarkets, opposed by the country’s bakeries. According to sources, the bill submitted in Parliament last week differs significantly from the provisions sent to Brussels by Economy, Competitiveness and Merchant Marine Minister Louka Katseli earlier this month.

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