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Milk talk drags on

The new multi-bill that will be tabled in Parliament on March 31st, will include a new article on the law for fresh milk, in order to receive the backing of Mps opposing the previous one.

The recent agreement with the troika constitutes an official recognition of Greece's achievements in both fiscal adjustment and the implementation of sweeping reforms, signalling a new era for the country, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told the Sunday 'Vima' in an interview.

"The fiscal targets achieved, especially the primary surplus, usher in a new era, in which Greece will not need to ask for loans every so often in order to deal with running operations, and they signal a Greece that is far more independent that it has ever been in the past," Samaras was quoted as saying.
"All predictions of a Greece disaster are proven wrong, and those who circulated them, expected them and sought them have become obsolete themselves... A sad chapter ends for Greece and a new era is beginning - one that will release at last its great growth potential and will (transform it) into a true example of competitiveness, extroversion and prosperity," he added.

In the meantime, government officials are working on the wording of a new law for the sale of fresh milk, which is a key obstacle for the government, as several coalition Mps’ denied to vote in favor of the previous law. Their backing is important for Greece to receive its next bailout tranche.

The demand to extend the shelf life of fresh milk past five days, essentially selling expired milk, is one of several liberalization measures and other reforms in the multi-bill that will go to Parliament on March 31. The draft law will have two or three articles.

This means that the provision on milk, along with other measures aimed at enhancing competition, will be included in an article with more of the reforms agreed with the Troika. If the government fails to gather the required votes, it would mean that the whole article would be rejected, undermining the deal with Greece’s lenders.

It is expected that by Thursday the final legislation, which will be broken down into three articles, will be ready for parties to assess. New Democracy MP Iordanis Tziamtzis told Mega TV on Saturday that he would not decide whether to back the legislation until he has seen the draft bill.

Another six PASOK and ND deputies have indicated they will not back the particular reform.