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Greek lawmakers reject pharmacy reform in austerity bill
ATHENS: Greece’s parliament voted against extending pharmacy opening hours, a rare sign of rebellion against reforms demanded by international lenders who are in Athens to negotiate the terms of a new bailout deal.
Despite resistance from some lawmakers, parliament voted last week in favour of the overall bill which includes pension, labour and other emergency measures agreed with the so-called troika of institutional lenders: the EU, ECB and IMF.
“The article 29 is rejected,” said parliament speaker Evangelos Argiris early on Wednesday after 152 lawmakers out of 253 voted against the reform or abstained. Among dissenters were members of both the Socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy parties which along with the far-right LAOS back the country’s coalition government struggling to exit the debt crisis.
Political disagreement over austerity measures and reforms is one of the main hurdles technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is facing as he races to clinch a crucial bond swap deal with private sector creditors.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Tuesday that all Greek parties must commit to reforms agreed with international lenders, no matter who wins upcoming elections, or Athens puts the second bailout at risk.
The government, which has previously voted laws in an attempt to free up the pharmacies’ sector from strict zoning rules and fixed drug prices and regulated opening hours, may reintroduce the reform in a new bill. -- Reuters