ATHENS – A slimmed-down summer session of Parliament approved a multi-bill needed to generate a one billion euro installment from international lenders has been narrowly passed although even lawmakers from the government’s ruling parties weren’t satisified with parts of it.
The measure passed by a vote of 50-47. Parliament has only 100 members instead of 300 in the summer and the bill was put forth despite the limited numbers because Greece needs the money from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, okayed changes to mollify his coalition partner, the PASOK Socialists.
But one New Democracy MP, Dimitris Kyriazidis, a former policeman, asked to be replaced for the vote so he wouldn’t have to vote against a provision allowing for the auxiliary pension funds of members of the emergency services and armed forces to be merged, which the officers bitterly oppose.
The move could lead to supplementary pensions being halved. Samaras already is ignoring a high court order to restore the 10 percent cut in salaries to the officers, which was cut as part of austerity measures he imposed on Troika orders.
Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis appealed for consensus ahead of the vote. “The multi-bill is progressive,” he said. “We cannot disagree about everything on everything.” The government has asked for more time to move on more than 600 reforms unfinished for four years.
The major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which vehemently is against pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings, voted for a provision to allow small businesses with a turnover of less than 10,000 euros to be exempted from Value-Added Tax.
There was, however, an angry exchange between SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras and State Minister Dimitris Stamatis after the Leftist chief said the coalition’s time will end next February when he predicted the government wouldn’t be able to muster enough support to name a new President, which would force national elections.
“We will take the maximum amount of time permitted and will abide by the Constitution and parliamentary rules,” said Stamatis.
“The election of the next President will be decided here, in Parliament. We will go to a third round of voting if needed but hopefully we can convince you from the first round [to back the coalition’s candidate] to save time.”