Α. Tsipras seeks political consensus on social security reform

Α. Tsipras seeks political consensus on social security reform

Athens, November 27, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has requested from the President of the Hellenic Republic, Procopis Pavlopoulos, a meeting of political party leaders chaired by the latter to discuss social security reform.

The government wants the meeting to be held on Saturday.

According to government sources, the government will listen to the proposals of all parties on social security reforms with a view to achieving consensus and strengthening Greece’s negotiating position in talks with creditors on the issue.

Asked if that meant Tsipras would ask for opposition backing when the reforms are voted in parliament, one government official told Reuters that reaching that level of agreement would be “especially desirable”.

So far, the “Potami” party said it would attend the meeting but would not give its unconditional support and the Communist Party flatly rejected the idea.

Main opposition New Democracy is hesitant since it has yet to elect a leader and Yannis Plakiotakis, the interim president, will have to attend. Other opposition parties are skeptical too especially since Tsipras has not showed much appetite for consensus in the past, analysts point out.

Small party “Enosi Kentroon” led by Vasilis Leventis said it will participate in the meeting in order to propose the formation of a “national unity government” made up of technocrats. The Syriza – ANEL coalition is unlikely to be open to such a prospect. However, with more prior actions set to be tabled in parliament for approval before December 15, the coalition risks losing its majority of 153 in the House.

The Euro Working Group met on Thursday to discuss the 2nd set of reforms Greece must implement to receive a 1 bln euros sub-trance (taxation of farmers, pension reform, OECD tool kit implementation, new privatization fund, etc.).

On Wednesday Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos’s plans for cutting mainly auxiliary pensions and increasing social security contributions were approved by the ministers participating in the Government Council of Social Policy, headed by Deputy PM Yannis Dragasakis. The government also plans to merge several pension funds into one.

Thousands of Greek pensioners demonstrated in central Athens on Thursday against cuts. The biggest public and private sector unions (GSEE and ADEDY) plan a 24-hour strike against pension reform on December 3.