The Greek Parliament has passed a SYRIZA-proposed draft law to address the country’s long-standing humanitarian crisis, despite objections expressed from the international creditors. This first package of social measures put forward by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government drew support across the board in parliament, including from the conservative, former ruling New Democracy party.
According to the bill, free electricity of up to 300kWh will be provided to 300,000 households, which either had their electricity supply disconnected or are unable to pay their bills, with priority given to those who live in extreme poverty. Free electricity will also include reconnection to the grid and refers to cases where power supply was cut off by the end of January 2015. Similarly, some 30,000 households are expected to receive rent subsidies, with the grant covering mainly new leases and the renewal of older ones, while it is expected to reach 70 euros per month per person and 220 euros per month per family. Priority will be given to families with young children, residing in urban areas. Furthermore, the bill includes a feeding program for another 300,000 families in the form of discount coupons or other electronic means. It will take into account the tax returns and income of beneficiaries from each source. In the case of unemployed who do not receive benefits, their formal declaration will be required.
Earlier, the Greek Premier, while addressing the Parliament highlighted that the government will honor the popular mandate and fulfill all election campaign pledges, starting with the bill to tackle the humanitarian crisis. Moreover, as he underlined, the negotiations on Greece’s bailout are hard but the government has the obligation to come to an agreement that will be for the benefit of the people. Greece will not back down during negotiations, despite the fact that its efforts are sabotaged by powers outside and inside Greece.
The new bill came under fire from various European officials and was characterized as a “unilateral action,” which is inconsistent with the commitments the Greek government undertook in the February 20 Eurogroup meeting. Namely, according to the British Channel 4 economic editor, Paul Mason, the head of the European Commission team, representing one of the three institutions currently negotiating with the Greek government, Declan Costello, said in a letter to the Greek authorities that both the law on addressing the humanitarian crisis and the settling for the 100 installments, included in the new government’s program, merit further negotiations.