Selasa, 03 April 2012

Greece's Parliament is akin to a huge open market , a bazaar of favors so to speak

Political bartering rife before polls

 More than 90 proposed amendments submitted by MPs expected to be rejected by PM’s office

MPs eager to push through last-minute amendments to laws before the anticipated dissolution of Parliament next week had submitted more than 90 proposals by late Tuesday night despite reports of growing frustration with these tactics in the office of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
Dozens of deputies, chiefly from socialist PASOK and conservative New Democracy, have submitted a raft of proposed amendments to the ministries of Interior, Development, Transport and Labor which need to be voted through Parliament by next Wednesday if snap polls are to be held on May 6, as expected.
State Minister Giorgos Stavropoulos, who was tasked with perusing all the amendments, had looked over them all by late Tuesday, according to government sources who told Kathimerini that all proposed changes were likely to be rejected. The same sources said that after having strong words with his ministers, Papademos was determined to put a stop to attempts by MPs trying to secure preferential treatment for supporters.
Following talks with Papademos, Stavropoulos reportedly asked Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos to press the heads of the parties’ parliamentary groups to refrain from submitting any more amendments.
Meanwhile an e-mail was sent out from the premier’s office to ministers asking them to brief the PM, and Stavropoulos, as to whether they plan to adopt any of the proposed amendments. The message noted that in view of the time pressure, amendments should only be adopted in “exceptional circumstances.”
The 92 proposed amendments seek a series of reforms ranging from exemptions from public sector wage cuts to the granting of fishing licenses to all small boats.
In a related development on Tuesday, Transport Minister Makis Voridis, who was forced to retract a proposed amendment of his own earlier this week, agreed to revise his suggested changes to laws governing the taxi drivers’ profession following the opposition of PASOK.

Voridis, who is affiliated with ND, had tried to pass an amendment imposing certain restrictions on the road haulage sector -- one of several closed professions, along with that of taxi drivers, which Greece has pledged its foreign creditors that it will open.


5.16pm: More bad news from Greece where senior finance ministry officials are not ruling out a new round of austerity if as looks likely the debt-stricken country fails to meet fiscal targets by June.
Helena Smith reports that the warning comes as politicians jostling for votes ahead of general elections attempt to amend unpopular reforms dictated by Greece's foreign creditors.
The spectre of fresh belt-tightening having to be enacted by a new government after general elections most likely in May, was raised by a senior finance ministry official giving an off-the-record briefing. If Greece failed to reign in its public finances in the coming weeks, he said, it would have to apply even more spending cuts — in addition to the €11.5bn Athens has already committed to enforce between 2013 and 2014 — in June.
The omens do not look good. A drop in state revenues estimated at around €1bn since the beginning of the year, has made the prospect of fresh pay and pension losses a looming reality. The extra cut-backs may be worth up to €3.5bn. Greek media is full of reports that the minimum wage, already hovering at just under €500 a month could be further slashed.
The backlash from the KKE communist party this afternoon was swift and sharp: "By voting for the KKE, workers and the self-employed must declare their rejection of these new sacrifices. Do not submit to the one-way road of poverty and wretchedness imposed on the people by the parties of the rich and EU."
The prospect of new measures came as MPs trying to curry favour with interest groups ahead of the poll proposed scores of amendments to legislation that the interim government has promised to pass in exchange for the country's latest package of rescue loans.
The tweaking has reached such heights that the technocrat prime minister Lucas Papademos was forced to pull rank telling MPs that no law will be changed unless condoned first by his office. In the uproar, the transport minister Makis Voridis had to back down on a proposal that would have given special dispensation to truck owners protesting against the liberalization of the freight industry.

Small investors go to court over debt restructuring

A group representing some 15,000 small-scale private investors who held Greek government bonds that were subjected to a 53.5 percent nominal haircut as part of Greece’s recent debt restructuring are to appeal against their treatment, a representative said on Tuesday.
Speaking to Skai Radio, Dimitris Alexopoulos, a member of the association of small bondholders, said an appeal would be filed with the Council of State -- the country’s highest adminstrative court -- and a protest would be held tomorrow at noon outside the Finance Ministry.
“There is no extra care for us after the haircut, unlike the banks,” he said.
“Bonds held by Austrian and Belgian citizens have been excluded from the haircut.”
Before the debt restructuring, known as PSI, the Greek government had suggested that small investors might receive some support after the haircut, but eurozone officials insisted this could not happen.
Alexopoulos said the bondholders, who include pensioners, are losing 80 percent of their investment.


Greece will likely need a second debt restructuring, according to a top official at investment fund PIMCO, as the first one that was completed last month may well not be sufficient for the country.
Andrew Bosomworth, head of the PIMCO portfolio in Germany, said on Tuesday that “with the first haircut the problems of Greece have not been resolved,” and that a second one will follow. This is why “we are avoiding Greek bonds.”
He added that the next haircut will hurt the states that lent to Greece as they will then hold about three-quarters of Greek debt.
Meanwhile a Dow Jones report suggested on Tuesday that the credit default swaps (CDS) of the bonds issued under foreign law may be in for a payout should Greece decide against repaying them. It cited a source from the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) that issues the CDS.
Back in Athens the outstanding debt that the state has to third parties (suppliers, construction companies etc) climbed to 6.3 billion euros at the end of February, from 5.7 billion at end-December, the Finance Ministry announced on Tuesday.

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