The package of anti-austerity measures that the government is now introducing will generate growth and allow additional relief measures to be adopted by the end of the current year, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday in parliament.
- He was speaking during the debate on the draft bill for 120-installment settlements to pay off debts to the public sector, VAT rate cuts for food and many catering services and the immediate payment of a ’13th pension’.
- The prime minister pointed out that the measures that deputies would be called to vote on were permanent and served to support growth, as well as the great majority of society. “I repeat this, so that it is understood by those talking about ‘tricks’ and pre-election handouts,” he added, predicting that the additional growth will create space for more fiscal relief measures before the year is out.
He also highlighted the “contradictions” of the opposition parties, “who denounce the measures on the one hand and vote for them, on the other hand.”
“It is enough, for me, that you vote for them,” he added, expressing his pleasure that the package of measures will be supported by all sections of parliament.
According to the prime minister, the measures will have an immediate impact on households, businesses, and consumers, lowering the cost of the average basket of goods since all foods in supermarkets will cost less as of Monday.
The lower VAT rates for electricity and natural gas, which will drop to the super-low rate of 6 pct, will also ease household and business finances, he added.
- Ηe especially emphasised the additional pension payment or “13th pension” that will be received by 2.5 million Greek pensioners, noting that this “corresponds with the current capability of our economy, with the total available sum corresponding to the amount of the Easter bonus.”
- Ending his speech, he expressed the hope that the opposition MPs “will be sitting in the same benches during the next four-year term, voting for the positive measures introduced by the government.”
Unlike the opposition, he added, “we have a plan and care about the people that paid the cost of your choices in the disastrous five-year period from 2010 to 2014. And we will continue with even greater determination to organise the ‘next day’ for the country, redress the injustices and heal the injuries of the crisis, once again creating prospects for a people that are lifting up their heads once more. This is our vision for the Greece of the many.”
Among the measures adopted by the government since Greece exited the memorandum programme in August 2018, he highlighted the restoration of the basic principles of collective labour bargaining, the hike in the minimum wage and abolition of the sub-minimum wage, the distribution of welfare benefits from the excess primary surplus for the third consecutive year and pledges made at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF). He also referred to the planned reduction of the solidarity contribution for all incomes from 2020, additional large discounts for new investments, subsidies of social insurance payments for young workers, tax relief for islanders and other tax-relief measures.