Greek MPs Approve Privatization of State Electricity Utility

Business » ENERGY | July 10, 2014, Thursday // 13:36
Bulgaria: Greek MPs Approve Privatization of State Electricity Utility A protest rally by Public Power Corporation (PPC) employees against the draft `small PPC` bill for the partial privatisation of Greece`s power company started in Syntagma Square opposite the Parliament on July 9. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Greek lawmakers gave green light to a bill under which 30% of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) will be sold as part of a large-scale privatization program.

Opposition parties however submitted proposals to hold a referendum on the move, daily Kathimerini's website reports.

Parliament Speaker Evangelous Meimarakis and Deputy Parliament Speakers are to meet at 14:30 EEST (12:30 GMT) to decide whether requests to call a national poll should be debated.

Both conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK, which are partners in government, backed the privatization scheme, while the opposition and independent MPs voted against, with far-right Golden Dawn, right-wing Independent Greeks and far-left SYRIZA tabling their referendum proposals.

The decision to sell PPC is the latest step in Athens' effort to deliver on Greek commitments to the "Troika" of international lenders (the EU Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB).

The country agreed with the three institutions to receive EUR 210 B to tackle its huge debt and undertake crucial reforms and a years-long austerity program that left its economy crippled for half a decade.

Reforms also included the privatization of a number of state enterprises which lenders believe impose a burden on the economy.

Earlier in July, PPC workers went on a 48-hour strike over the prospective sale of a third of their company, and the country suffered power outages for two days. Protests were also held in the capital on Wednesday before Parliament's session, amid a fresh general strike that started the same day against continuing mass layoffs and wage cuts.

As part of a new state strategy, PPC is also seeking to set up subsidiaries in neighboring countries to expand presence in the region, and earlier this week it announced it would have a filial in Bulgaria.

Wednesday's vote in Greek Parliament was a day ahead of a visit by Troika representatives who are due to meet newly-appointed Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis in Athens.

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Tags: greece, PPC, privatization, parliament, New Democracy, PASOK, Independent Greeks, golden dawn, Syriza, Athens, IMF, ECB, EU Commission, Gikas Hardouvelis, Evangelous Meimarakis, Strike, troika, Referendum, Bulgaria

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