Sunday

21st Jul 2019

Greek MPs recalled from holidays for bailout vote

  • Tsipras is likely to face an even bigger rebellion inside his Syriza party this time round (Photo: Αλέξης Τσίπρας Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας)

The Greek parliament is expected to vote on Thursday evening (13 August) on a series of reforms, including tax hikes, which are likely to stoke a left-wing rebellion against prime minister Alexis Tsipras.

The reforms constitute the prior actions required by Greece's creditors - the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - before new bailout money can start being disbursed.

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The bailout deal will also need to be endorsed by the Eurogroup on Friday and ratified by eurozone countries.

Greek MPs have been called back from their summer holiday for a vote according to a fast-track procedure.

Discussions started at committee level on Thursday morning and will be followed by a plenary debate in the evening. Voting should take place late in the night, as was the case in previous votes in July.

Reforms

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreed by the Greek government on Tuesday details what is expected from the Greek government over the next three years.

The reduced VAT rate for islands are to be abolished in several steps by the end of 2016 and the VAT system is to be streamlined.

Taxes on fuel for farmers is to be raised from €66 per 1,000 litres to €200 from October.

Early retirement will be phased out, with the retirement age to be set at 67 years in 2022 at the latest.

A previous pension reform voted in 2010 at the creditors' request are to be implemented and measures introduced by Tsipras’ government earlier this year are to be repealed.

The price of off-patent drugs and generic medicine is be cut to 50 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively, of the patent price.

Measures on healthcare introduced by the left-wing government have to be taken back.

The government is required to launch a strategy to address the issue of non-performing loans - loans which are not being repaid to Greek banks.

The list of prior actions also includes implementation of an already-agreed privatisation programme and gas market reform.

Opposition

Tsipras said on Wednesday the bailout deal “will put a final end to economic uncertainty".

But the Greek PM is facing strong opposition from the left wing of his Syriza party.

He was voted into power in January on an anti-austerity ticket and he called a referendum, in July, on creditors’ demands in which Greeks voted No.

In July, 39 Syriza MPs already voted against the first set of prior actions and 36 MPs voted against the second set.

Rebels could be more numerous on Thursday, casting a shadow over the future of the Syriza-led coalition government.

A vote in support of the creditor's demands would trigger an “immediate divorce”, Costas Isichos, a former Tsipras government minister, warned.

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