ATHENS, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Greece’s leftist government will be able to push through a crucial pension reform in parliament, part of measures the country has agreed to under its international bailout, the deputy prime minister said in a newspaper interview released on Saturday.
Greece has drafted a proposal to overhaul its ailing pension system, which envisages merging all six pension funds into one and a possible cut of future main pensions by up to 30 percent . It plans to submit the proposal to parliament by the end of the month and to hold a vote on it in early February.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government has a parliamentary majority of just three seats and the reform, which opposition parties and many pensioners and workers oppose, will test its resolve to implement actions agreed with international creditors.
Asked whether Tsipras’ ruling coalition has secured enough support from lawmakers for the reform, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis said in an interview with Avgi newspaper: “The government has a strong and solid (parliamentary) majority.”
“But passing the relevant law won’t be enough,” he said, adding that the government should also secure backing from workers and political parties to implement the changes.
Hundreds of Greek pensioners and workers marched in central Athens on Friday to protest against the plan, which is part of a package of reforms Athens needs to implement to conclude the first review of its 86 billion-euro ($93.4 billion) bailout and start debt relief talks.
As Greece seeks support at home and in Europe, Finance Minister Euclides Tsakalotos met Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan on Friday in Rome to discuss the timetable for completion of the first review and debt reprofiling.
Greece’s mountain of debt is expected to reach 187.8 percent of annual gross domestic product this year.
Dragasakis said that the Greek debt issue was a European problem which should be mutualised.
But if European leaders were reluctant to consider a radical solution at this point, then Greece should seek “a temporary solution, which will make sure that debt and its servicing expenses will not hinder long-term borrowing, investment and social policies, as it is the case now”, he said. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Digby Lidstone)