Greece passes new reform bill to clear next bailout tranche
Updated: 2014-03-31 09:31
ATHENS - Greece's parliament passed into law on early Monday a draft bill on the next round of reforms requested by international creditors before the disbursement of further bailout funding to the country.
The bill which included articles on the liberalization of markets and professions was ratified with 152 votes in favor in the 300-member strong assembly shortly after Sunday midnight.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras expelled from his conservative New Democracy party parliamentary group MP Nikitas Kaklamanis who voted against party line, leaving the two-partite ruling coalition with the socialists with 152 seats in the assembly.
Following the outcome, Athens now expects that eurozone Finance Ministers will open the way for the release of the next aid tranche to Greece during their informal meeting at the Greek capital on Tuesday.
The vote in parliament came after a heated debate which culminated when the main opposition Radical Left SYRIZA party in an unexpected move tabled a censure motion against Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Sunday afternoon, accusing him of promoting catastrophic economic policies for Greek society.
Parliament Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis rejected over technicalities the motion which would delay the vote on the reform bill for at least three days. SYRIZA responded by submitting a no confidence proposal against Meimarakis which is due to be discussed on Monday.
In a written statement Samaras strongly criticized SYRIZA that it acts national interests by attempting to stall the discussion on the disbursement of funds to Greece.
Addressing the parliament before the vote Stournaras also accused the main opposition party of populism, defending the government policies.
"We have led the economy out of the crisis...Greece's efforts are internationally acknowledged," he said, arguing that the reforms are necessary to restore growth after four years of painful austerity introduced to tackle an acute debt crisis.
Critics of the reforms, such as labor unions which staged rallies in protest outside the parliament building, argued that the bill will add pressure on suffering professionals and consumers.