Cyprus Mail

Contested bill ensures long day at the House

By Constantinos Psillides

It will be a long day for the House and workers in semi-governmental organisations on Thursday as MPs decide the future of the EAC, CyTA and the Cyprus Ports Authority.

In the afternoon plenum session, starting at around 4:00 pm, parliamentary parties will be called upon to vote on the much debated privatisation plan for the SGOs, while hundreds of workers will be protesting outside.

The proposed plan is expected to pass, with support by the ruling coalition DISY, DIKO and EVROKO. In total, the governing coalition controls 29 seats in the House (DISY 20, DIKO 8 and EVROKO 1) which guarantees a majority.

But it won’t be an easy afternoon for the government. DIKO might officially have eight votes but some of them may break ranks after the party’s bitterly contested decision to finally leave the ruling coalition on Wednesday.

Former DIKO MP  Zacharias Koulias, considered an ally of leader Nicolas Papadopoulos,  has given no clear indication of what he plans to vote while Athena Kyriakidou went on CyBC radio on Thursday morning to say that some DIKO parliamentarians won’t necessarily obey party directives. Kyriakidou has always voiced her opposition against party leader Papadopoulos, having supported his long-time opponent Marios Garoyian in every major party conflict.

DIKO’s position will be made clear at around 3:00 p.m., after the meeting of the party parliamentary group.

Speaking ahead of that meeting, Papadopoulos said the parliamentary group would examine the proposed plan and act accordingly.

“With the amendments we included in the plan, we believe that we have achieved our goals and we are hoping for the support of all the other parties. So we can keep our promises and regain our market credibility,” the DIKO leader said.

Just minutes earlier, Kyriakidou was asked how DIKO could side with the government on economy issues while dissolving the coalition because of the Cyprus problem. “It’s time every one of us takes responsibility for what is happening,” the DIKO MP told CyBC radio, but she refused to reveal how she intended to vote.

Opposition parties, AKEL (19), EDEK (5), Citizen’s Alliance (1) and the Green party (1) all said they would be voting against the proposed plan. Their total of 26 votes though isn’t enough to throw off the government’s plan. And to make matters worse for the opposition, House president Yiannakis Omirou and Roula Mavronikola, both members of EDEK, are absent abroad and can’t vote.

The afternoon plenum session will prove to be a long one, as every single party announced that it would propose an amendment to the privatisation plan. Both AKEL and EDEK asked for the government to renegotiate with the troika of lenders (European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union) for a different privatisation plan.

Opposition parties are expected to back-up AKEL’s proposal for a renegotiation with the troika as well as the EDEK proposal to delay the vote.

The privatisation plan needs to be voted in before March 10, when the next Eurogroup will be in session. The plan is an obligation Cyprus has towards the troika, in order to release the next installment of the bailout aid. Troika set March 5 as the deadline with abiding with the bailout plan’s requirements.



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