Opposition cries foul over what it says is last-minute amendment to forgive smuggling fine

29 April 2017
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A rider attached to unrelated draft legislation regarding an out-of-court settlement framework for arrears by the private sector generated a firestorm of reactions in Parliament on Friday by the opposition. The latter charged that the rider, in the form of an amendment, essentially aims to forgive a hefty fine against a company owned by a well-known northern Greece businessman.

The fine was imposed for alleged smuggling of tobacco products from a Thrace-area manufacturer, which was identifiedy as SEKAP, which is a subsidiary now of a Russian group.

Speaking in Parliament, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis called for the amendment to be withdrawn, and re-filed as a ministerial decision, one accompanied by a report by the General Accounting Office.

“If you don’t do this, then obvious questions will be raised over who is behind this amendment,” Mitsotakis said, in directly his comments to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was present in Parliament.

In a reply, Tsipras referred to what he called “a downgrading of the deputy’s (stature) and of the legislative process…”

The amendment’s introductory report, which was submitted by a SYRIZA deputy from the northern Kozani district, states that the “provision (in the amendment) aims to consolidate a climate of trust between investors and the entities that belong to the wider public sector…”

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