The government views the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) that begins this weekend as an opportunity to get the message out that it can now draft policy without the external constraints imposed by the country’s bailout programs.
In this vein, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who will deliver his keynote address at TIF on Saturday, hailed the signing on Monday by Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou of collective labor contracts for four sectors as “the first government decision that signals [Greece’s] exit from the memorandum.”
The TIF is viewed by the government as pivotal in its effort to reconnect with the electorate – especially the middle class which has borne the brunt of bailout austerity.
According to government officials, there is fiscal leeway – estimated at around 800 million euros – which will be used to bring relief to the middle class, crippled by years of overtaxation.
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Monday that this fiscal leeway is there to be used at any given time.
The measures Tsipras is expected to announce during his keynote speech include, among others, targeted tax relief, a reduction in social insurance contributions, a rise in the minimum wage and restoring labor rights.
Speaking on Saturday to local businessmen in northern Greece, Tsipras said that it would be “first time time after eight years that a prime minister of Greece will speak at TIF and present a plan drafted by his own government,” rather than one dictated by Greece’s commitments under its bailouts.