ATHENS, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Greek legislators approved unanimously on Wednesday the VAT hike suspension for the eastern Aegean Sea islands, which are seriously affected by the ongoing migrant crisis.
In a rare show of unity for Greek politics, all 259 lawmakers present at the vote in the 300-member assembly backed the measure.
The debate and voting was broadcast live by the parliament's television.
Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and other islands which have received the bulk of refugee flows since early 2015, will maintain until 2018 a 30 percent discount on VAT rates, which had been granted to islanders three decades ago as part of a strategy to support local economies.
The nationwide harmonization of VAT rates, 6 percent for items such as books to 24 percent for most products and services, is one of the policies agreed with Greece's international creditors under the bailout program.
Since the autumn of 2015 Mykonos, Santorini and other islands have lost the special status.
But Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced two weeks ago the suspension, arguing it was the least the central government should do to support the islands bearing a disproportional burden since 2015.
Opposition parties also supported the initiative which leaves a 50 million euro (52.2 million US dollars) gap in the 2017 budget.
However, the one-off Christmas bonus for low income pensioners Tsipras announced the same day did not receive such a warm welcome in the Greek parliament last week. It was also disliked by international creditors. (1 euro=1.04 US dollars)