Multi-bill containing prior actions approved but government loses two MPs

Multi-bill containing prior actions approved but government loses two MPs

Athens, November 20, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

The government passed the set of 48 reforms required for the release of up to 12 billion euros in loans but it lost two MPs who broke ranks with the government and were ousted from their parties’ parliamentary groups, reducing the government’s majority to 153 from 155.

The two MPs who defected on Thursday night were Stathis Panagoulis of Syriza, who abstained, and Nikos Nikolopoulos of Independent Greeks (ANEL), who voted “no.”

Earlier in the day, former government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis resigned in protest at the new measures. His resignation had no impact on the government’s majority as he gave up his seat which was taken by Alternate Administrative Reform Minister Christoforos Vernardakis.

The multi-bill was approved with 153 votes to 137.

Apart from stricter terms for the protection of first homes from repossessions, it includes a tax on wine which was lowered from the amount originally proposed by the government to 15 cents per bottle.

The government is facing a crisis as the next round of prior actions will include the thorny issue of pension reform which will put the government’s slim majority of 153 in danger.

Government sources rule out any collaboration with “Enosi Kentroon” party, or any other opposition party, and appear confident that the majority will be intact considering that the successful recapitalization of the banking system will boost morale.

European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici wrote on twitter: “Tonight’s vote in Athens is another step forward for Greece. We will assess with other institutions and report to the Euro Working Group tomorrow”.

Meanwhile, the 2016 state budget, whose final draft is due to be tabled in Parliament on Friday, will include a forecast for a milder recession this year and next, but the fiscal targets will not change.

The budget will also reflect all the new measures and reforms that must apply, such as the interventions in the social security and tax systems.