The Greek Parliament discussion earlier today over the legislative order issued this week, ordering the country’s public sector operations to transfer excess funds to the Bank of Greece (BoG) in a dramatic attempt to cover the country’s needs, was stigmatized by tension and vehement exchanges between government and opposition MPs. The SYRIZA-led government rejected a New Democracy objection against the legislative act that obliges state bodies and local authorities to transfer their cash reserves to the country’s central bank in order to be used ahead of the upcoming International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan repayments in May.
New Democracy’s objection, which asserted that the legislative act violated the country’s Constitution, was rejected by all the other opposition parties. Speaking in Parliament, New Democracy MP and former Minister under the Samaras administration Makis Voridis invoked Constitution articles citing the financial independence of local authorities and state universities.
On his behalf, SYRIZA MP and parliamentary spokesperson Nikos Filis highlighted that even if this was the case, the independence of the above bodies is only being temporarily compromised and for the broader interest. Earlier this afternoon, tensions rose yet again when some MPs from governing SYRIZA and opposition PASOK came close to a physical altercation. The opposition MPs were irritated when Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis accused them for representing the demands of the country’s creditors.
The situation was not better outside the Parliament, where 50 mayors from various Greek cities gathered to protest against the legislative order. At the same time, nurses and doctors also protested in the Greek capital.
Athens has been tapping into the public money reserves in temporary transactions in what is seen by analysts as a sign of the country’s desperate need of fresh funds, amid the SYRIZA-led government’s attempt to convince international creditors to unlock further financial aid. The legislative order excludes pension funds as well as the idle money of some state-owned firms, as their cash reserves are designated to cover the immediate payment of those bodies’ own needs. “This is a pre-emptive move to ensure that they will be able to secure as much liquidity as possible because of the squeeze,” an Athens-based analyst told Reuters, adding that “there are still some billions of euros in cash reserves parked in banks by state entities.”