NEWS

Samaras eyes tax cuts as Tsipras approaches industrialists

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pledged on Wednesday to unveil a plan later this year to reduce a range of taxes if Greece is able to meet its fiscal targets.

“Reducing all the burdens is my most tangible dream for the Greece of tomorrow,” Samaras told the annual meeting of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV). He indicated he would present a program in the fall for cutting taxes that would be harmonized with the fiscal targets the coalition has agreed with the troika.

Government sources said that Samaras and his advisers are keen to lighten the load on the middle classes in the wake of the European Parliament elections on Sunday, when New Democracy saw its support drop 7 percentage points from what it received in the national vote two years earlier.

Samaras also dismissed SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras’s demand that the opposition party be consulted over key appointments such as the next Bank of Greece governor and the country’s representative on the European Commission. “He has developed the worst arrogance of power without having any power,” said Samaras. “If they want to offer their opinion, that’s fine. However, they cannot wag their finger at us and blackmail the country.”

Samaras’s coalition partner, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, met President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday. After the meeting he indicated that the government is abandoning the idea of changing the electoral law. It was suggested on Monday that PASOK wanted to launch discussions on scrapping or reducing the 50-seat bonus awarded to the leading party in national elections. However, sources close to the prime minister were quick to clarify that New Democracy was not keen on such an idea. “These changes would need clear understanding between the political forces and I do not think that exists at the moment,” Venizelos told journalists.

The PASOK leader, however, did propose five areas in which the coalition could find common ground with SYRIZA. He also told Papoulias that he is in favor of the creation of a government “that expresses the whole nation and not just the two parties participating in it,” he said. “We also want the opposition party to be part of the national collective responsibility.”

Also, in a speech to SEV members on Wednesday, Tsipras expressed his desire for an “honest cooperation” and a “functioning, institutional relationship” with SEV.

According to sources, SYRIZA strategists are keen to foster close ties with representatives of Greek industries as the party’s proposed economic model for exiting the crisis is based on a restructuring of production. There are certain points on which the two sides converge but many other significant points of disagreement, sources said.

Potential points of contention include SYRIZA’s opposition to measures aimed at creating more flexibility in the labor market, to the introduction of private insurance companies into the Greek market and to plans for privatization.

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