NEWS

PM offers more cuts and handouts with polls in mind

STAVROS PAPANTONIOU, BOURDARAS GIORGOS

TAGS: Economy, Politics

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday announced a planned reduction to the highly unpopular ENFIA property tax, insisting that he is implementing the “positive” measures announced at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in September.

Speaking in Parliament, Tsipras said the property tax cut will offer relief to 90 percent of taxpayers. “Of the 5.8 million who own property impacted by ENFIA, 5.5 million will see a reduction,” he said.

Tsipras’s reference to lower and medium-sized properties was seen as an opening to the country’s middle class, which has borne the brunt of the country’s protracted financial crisis.

He also announced a so-called social dividend of some 710 million euros, which the government aims to disburse on December 14, in what critics see as part of a concerted handouts campaign aimed at luring back voters who have drifted away from the government.

According to senior government officials, the dividend will concern between 1.3 and 1.4 million households.

Tsipras also took a swipe at New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitstotakis, who was absent from on Wednesday’s proceedings, saying that the conservative leader felt “awkward” due to his government’s positive measures.

For his part, at event later on Wednesday, Mitsotakis said that ND will indeed vote for the benefits that the government is pushing but noted that “benefits are not enough.”

He accused the leftist-led government of taking “10 [euros from the Greeks] and giving them back one.” He added that despite the government’s triumphant words, the economy remains depressed, investments are down and wages are falling.

He said the government has embarked on a “benefits game” that will make society “dependent and impoverished.” 

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s debate in Parliament over the revision of the Greek Constitution was marred by acrimony due to the government’s decision to call for retroactive judicial investigations into corruption cases involving ministers going back 20 years.

SYRIZA lawmaker and Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos proposed that an addition should be made to Article 86 of the constitution concerning the prosecution of government members.

“It will allow justice to probe cases, essentially beginning in 2000 until today, of scandals that implicate ministers,” he told Parliament.

ND MPs accused him of seeking to challenge the statute of limitations in Article 86.

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