Growth, jobs creation and tax cuts are Greece’s targets for the next few years, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Tuesday as he argued that a vote for SYRIZA in Sunday’s European Parliament elections would be a vote for “turning the country back.”
With just a few days left until the crucial double election contest, which will include the second round of local elections, Samaras chose to look ahead at Greece’s prospects but also to step up the rhetoric regarding SYRIZA and what kind of threat the opposition party might prove.
Samaras pledged that Greece’s unemployment rate, currently the highest in the European Union at 26.5 percent, would fall below the EU average by 2020 on the back of a growth plan he outlined Tuesday. The prime minister said that at a conservative estimate there would be 54.5 billion euros of investment in the Greek economy over the next seven years and that there would be 870,000 jobs created during this period.
“From now on, there will be no more looking down... the recession ends this year,” Samaras said in his speech at the Benaki Museum.
He said his five priorities for the years ahead are reducing unemployment, lowering taxation, securing liquidity, bringing down the cost of agricultural production and promoting reforms. Regarding taxation, Samaras said his target is to bring the rate on business profits down to 15 percent, and for the highest income tax rate to be at 33 percent and value-added tax to be no higher than 12 percent. For farmers, the premier said he would provide tax-free fuel and that the social security contributions for foreign laborers would be reduced from July 1.
“We will not let anyone turn us back,” added Samaras as he criticized SYRIZA, signaling a ratcheting up of New Democracy’s attacks on the leftists.
Sources told Kathimerini that New Democracy will rely heavily on this message over the days to come, arguing that SYRIZA is a threat to stability as a victory for the leftists could create the type of uncertainty that would take Greece back. Samaras is due to round off the conservative campaign with a speech in Athens on Friday.