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Austerity package approved by Parliamentary Committee despite strong reactions

Lawmakers from the coalition SYRIZA-ANEL government approved in principle the new austerity package 2018-2021. The package was debated at the relevant parliamentary committee before coming for a roll-call vote in the Plenary on Thursday evening, May 18 2017.

The measures of the competent parliamentary committees were approved in principle with the votes of the government members of SYRIZA and ANEL.

Now the separate articles are being discussed, Tuesday’s meeting will conclude at 8 pm and continue at 10 am on Wednesday. The austerity package counts 940 pages.

SYRIZA’s rapporteur Christos Karagiannidis was trying to justify that he is not a university graduate and he does not know the financial issues well. During the discussion on Monday, Karagiannidis had practically admitted that he has not deeper knowledge of economy and finances that the average Greek citizen.

Earlier on Tuesday, members of pensioners associations, of self-employed and employees, of farmers and professionals of all categories, of people with disabilities and other bodies of interest were invited to submit their positions. They were all against the new austerity package. Many of them attacked the government saying that the government was claiming other things than what it comes to voting.

All interest groups underlined the negative features of the proposed provisions of the omnibus bill. The called on the government to withdraw the bill and proposed to start consultations between the unions and the bodies of interest and the government in order to reach an agreement about arrangements and bill modifications that are deemed necessary within the current critical economic and societal context.

“If you do not withdraw the bill, we will be on the other side,” the representative of the union of the Armed Forces threatened. “Withdraw the bill or you step down,” the spokesman of the Coast Guard union said. “The cry of anguish will become a cry of indignation,” the farmers’ representative stressed. The representative of the police officers union  said they will take the bill to the European Court of Human Rights.

Businessmen associations of small and medium retailers vehemently opposed the measure to open shops on Sunday from May to October to enable shopping by tourists. “Who is the tourist who will go to the discount village near the Athens Airport and buy a refrigerator or bathroom tiles upon his arrival?” one of the shop-owners representative told the committee members.

I watched the debate for a couple of hours and my impression was that the representatives of groups of interests were knocking on a deaf man’s door*.

No plight and no need can persuade the government to withdraw the bill – as no plight persuaded any government since 2010 to withdraw any previous bailout agreement or supplementary Memorandum of Understanding.

Although there can be some last minute modifications before the voting as it has happened in the past – with the effect that we did not know what exactly they voted about.

*Quote by famous Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis — ‘You can knock on a deaf man’s door forever.’

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  1. What about the strikes of the seamen and journalists today?

  2. Christos Karagiannidis insults the *average* greek citizen by comparing his comprehension to ours.