In a highly symbolic gesture, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Monday made it known that she will be donating half her salary for the next couple of months to a special state fund created to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. It was a sign of solidarity at a time when the country, and the rest of the world, are waging a battle against Covid-19.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on MPs of his ruling New Democracy party as well as ministers and deputy ministers to donate half their salary for the next two months – widely expected to be the most difficult phase – to the same fund.
It was a self-evident proposal for any socially sensible political class that should set an example for other governments. It’s too bad not all administrations have so far reacted the same way.
No one can question the soundness of the proposal put forward by Mitsotakis. Even if some decide to label it a publicity stunt, it is still nevertheless an appropriate gesture that sends a significant moral message to society. The other political leaders and parties of the opposition will hopefully follow suit. Most importantly, so should the private sector.
In the case of private companies, beyond their obvious symbolism, such gestures would also have a tangible impact on society at large: The actions that could be undertaken and the money that could be spent on fighting the disease or assisting employees and others would have a meaningful effect on people’s everyday lives.
The aid would be enough to provide some comfort to the people hardest hit by the crisis. The same people should, after all, be the focus of state measures.
It should be clear by now that no one will escape unscathed from this crisis, including wage earners, businesses and the state. However, the healthy companies – those that have not been seriously affected by the crisis – have a social obligation to join the relief effort.
Many firms have already done so. Some foundations have donated medical supplies and some private clinics have provided facilities. It would not be fair to single out any of the donors here. Authorities, on the other hand, could release official data, including details about the identity of the sponsors and publicize their donations. Such a move would also serve as an incentive for other companies.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the public health emergency, we are all equal. When dealing with this crisis, each should contribute according to their abilities.