Greece’s Bailout Bill Submitted to Parliament

August 12, 2015 Updated: August 12, 2015

ATHENS, Greece—Greece’s government submitted the draft bill for a new bailout to parliament overnight, in the hope of tapping the new rescue loans in time to avoid defaulting on its debts next week.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called an emergency session of parliament to discuss and vote on the bill, which includes painful tax hikes and spending cuts, by the end of Thursday.

Tsipras has been facing fierce opposition to the bailout from hardliners within his left-wing Syriza party, although the bill is expected to pass in the 300-member parliament with votes in favor from lawmakers in pro-European opposition parties.

Greece has been anxious to conclude a deal with its creditors for the three-year, roughly 85 billion euro ($93 billion) in time to receive funds ahead of an Aug. 20 debt repayment due to the European Central Bank from its first bailout.

Tsipras is asking the assembly’s speaker to have the bill go through committee level Wednesday, ahead of a full debate and vote Thursday.

Parliament Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, a dissenter within Tsipras’ left-wing Syriza party and vociferous bailout opponent, reportedly scheduled the parliamentary procedure to start only Wednesday night. That would delay the process and meaning a vote would likely be held in the pre-dawn hours of Friday.

The draft bailout agreement sees Tsipras accepting what he had vowed to resist only months ago: the sale of some state property and deep cuts to pensions, military spending and ending tax credits to people considered vulnerable.

The bill includes legislation opening up protected professions to more competition, increasing personal, corporate and property taxes and abolishing early retirements. Tax hikes cover sectors as diverse as diesel fuel for farmers, private school tuition and Greek-interest shipping, while small businesses and freelances will have to prepay the entire amount of the following year’s taxes.

The deal contains legislation on issues as detailed as where fresh bread can be sold, the expiry date of fresh milk and regulations on when stores can hold discount sales.

Once Greece’s parliament ratifies the bill, the deal needs the approval of the other 18 eurozone nations’ finance ministers, who are to discuss the issue Friday. Several countries, including Germany, which has been Greece’s harshest critic, must then also ratify the deal in their own parliaments before any funds can be disbursed.

Germany has so far sounded cautious at best over the deal, saying Wednesday when it was announced that Berlin would need to examine the details.