Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is planning a new package of handouts ready ahead of European Parliament and regional elections in May while his leftist SYRIZA and other parties are vying for the support of some 428,000 new voters who will be going to ballot boxes for the first time.
According to sources, Tsipras is certain to announce at least one social benefit in the countdown to the European elections.
However, he is expected to first meet with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Alternate Minister Giorgos Houliarakis immediately after Orthodox Easter to determine how to proceed and overcome likely objections by Greece’s creditors to measures that will add to the fiscal burden so early in the financial year.
As the government appears keen to avoid any clash with the creditors in the countdown to polls, it is expected that any initial announcement for handouts will not exceed 200 million euros. In any case, Tsipras will need to keep additional handouts up his sleeve for snap general elections if SYRIZA perform particularly badly in next month’s polls.
Sources close to Tsipras indicate that there is some fiscal space to work with as a significant primary surplus is forecast for this year.
However an estimated budget surplus of around 650 million euros has essentially already been accounted for as the state must honor a series of court decisions ordering the reimbursement of pension and salary cuts to civil service workers and pensions.