Parliament passes key law before EU/IMF visit
Instead of taking their usual long summer recess, Greek lawmakers are working full-time
Instead of taking their usual long summer recess, Greek lawmakers are working full-time in August to pass bundles of legislation required by one bailout programme that provided Greece with 110 billion euros last year and a second, agreed in July, giving it a further 109 billion euros in stages.
To qualify for the rescue payments, Greece has to carry out structural reforms and meet fiscal targets, and international lenders are keeping it under quarterly surveillance.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the law had to be passed before an EU/IMF team arrived for the next audit on August 22.
"We must do our work and be a model of execution," Venizelos told lawmakers.
Most controversially, the law strengthens the position of state-run gaming firm OPAP, in the hope of increasing its value before its full privatisation later this year.
The company will receive an exclusive licence to operate all the 35,000 videolotto machines (VLTs) to be set up in the country as part of gaming liberalisation, operating 16,500 machines itself and sub-contracting the rest.
Rival gambling operator Betfair has said it will appeal against the legislation, telling the European Commission that it infringes EU free trade rules. A successful appeal would dent Greek plans to raise 4.6 billion euros from asset sales this year.
A condition of the second Greek rescue programme was that private bondholders contribute a net 37 billion euros by accepting a 21 per cent loss on their Greek bond holdings.
Source: Athens News
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