Venizelos pledges no more taxes in June

No new taxes in June, no horizontal cuts to salaries and pensions, and a gradual lifting of a number of taxes were some of the promises PASOK president Evangelos Venizelos handed out on Saturday noon at the presentation of his party?s election program in Athens.

Speaking at the Theodoros Karatzas auditorium of the National Bank in front of a select audience, Venizelos proposed a change to the national productive model, ?that in the last 38 years has relied on consumption and is the main cause for the crisis we are undergoing.?

He said the new model starts with the return to the countryside, as ?the new agricultural policy constitutes a huge pool for new jobs.? The model also includes the return of Greek capital from abroad and reaches up to the new dynamic sectors of technology.

Among his proposals were the gradual withdrawal of the solidarity tax (currently amounting to 1 to 4 percent of income), that will help rekindle growth, while the special property tax paid through the electricity bills will be merged with other property taxes into one.

Growth will also be spurred by privatizations and new infrastructure projects, the investment in energy that could exceed 30 billion euros, and the return of value-added tax on food catering to its previous level (13 percent from 23 percent today).

?This is the first time we can talk of a tax system to be stable for the next 10 years. It will require the broadest possible party consensus, though. It runs counter to historical knowledge to promise cuts to tax rates,? he said as an answer to New Democracy?s stated intention to bring corporate tax down to 15 percent. He also promised to combat tax distortions, without specifying.

Venizelos even proposed the institutionalization of what he branded ?Poor Man?s Inflation?, that is a new index for the prices of every-day products required by families with income problems.

The former Finance Minister chose to speak only about financial issues, avoiding any mention of other policy domains, but did say that the best option would be for a coalition government of the center-left.

?Noone can achieve it on his own, as our experience has recently shown. One can see now whether the time of single-party governments is gone or not.? He added that the new government should have just 14 ministries, including a Merchant Marine Ministry -- that PASOK abolished in 2009 -- and no more than 10 deputy ministers. General secretaries in ministries should be permanent, he said.

Earlier in the day in an interview on Mega Channel, Venizelos said there should first be an agreement on the program of the next coalition government and then talk about the name of the next prime minister. However he stressed that the next premier would have to be a politician and not a technocrat.