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In special session, House to revisit foreclosures

Υπουργός Οικονομικών – Δηλώσεις//fi
Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides

The House plenum will convene in an extraordinary session on Tuesday to revisit a bill that further renews a moratorium on foreclosures and which President Nicos Anastasiades has refused to sign off on.

The bill, passed by parliament earlier this month, would extend the freeze on repossessions – currently set to expire on 31 July – to the end of October.

Anastasiades did not sign off on it, sending the bill back to parliament. Among the grounds he cited for refusing to sign, he argued the bill is in breach of certain articles of the constitution – such as the right to freely enter into a contract – and it also breaches the principle of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Should parliament in turn reject the president’s referral, Anastasiades reserves the right to take the matter to the supreme court.

Until the matter is settled, the current law applies, based on which the freeze on foreclosures expires on July 31.

As is often the case, rather than reject the president’s referral outright MPs will likely seek to tweak the bill so that it becomes acceptable to the presidency, thus avoiding court litigation.

On Tuesday the House finance committee will be convening to discuss how to proceed before the bill is put to the plenum for another vote.

Attending the committee session will be Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, attorney-general Giorgos Savvides, and representatives of the central bank and the association of banks.

Reports said the majority of the parties will insist on passing the bill, but that they are open to changes.

Main opposition Akel, Diko, Dipa and the Greens would not budge on passing the item; ruling Disy are expected to go along with the president’s refusal to sign the bill.

The House is currently in its summer recess, hence the need to call an extraordinary session.

The bill that MPs passed on 8 July – and whose fate will be determined on Tuesday – provides for prohibiting repossessions on primary residences valued at up to €350,000, business premises with annual turnover of up to €750,000, and agricultural land plots valued at up to €100,000.

Lawmakers had passed the bill despite warnings from the government and the banking industry not to. Both the government and the banks advised against extending the moratorium on repossessions because of the moral hazard – given that foreclosures serve as a tool and an incentive encouraging delinquent debtors to restructure their loans.

 

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