With the budget sliding into ever deeper deficits, the Finance Ministry is trying to strike a balance between the need to support households and enterprises from the ravages of the pandemic and the necessity to contain the fiscal imbalance so that it does not undermine the future of the country.
According to a ministry source, the Christmas bonus for workers on furlough will be granted with the participation of the state in proportion to the monthly support of 534 euros (and €800 in November) for the period their contract has been suspended.
He went on to suggest that the €800 subsidy will be maintained in December for workers who will remain on or enter furlough. This decision favors part-time workers, who have the lowest salaries, but not most better-paid full-timers, which is generating disappointment.
The ministry official is adamant that “we have to make decisions over where we draw the line and what the day after will be like.” He also referred to the need to consider “tomorrow’s taxpayer,” in an indirect warning about avoiding new tough measures. We should not reach breaking point, he said, as that would jeopardize the future of the country again.
There will be no fiscal restrictions in 2021, and possibly not even in 2022, but they will return in 2023, he stresses. “Europe will be different after the pandemic, but not that different. Greece is able to overcome the problem thanks to the Next Generation EU subsidies, but before that we still have five or six months of the pandemic. It is a long time and we do not know how the situation will unfold. We need to save some of our strength, so as to have some positive prospects. Let’s be prudent until the ray of light becomes a window,” he says.
He adds that if the entire salary of workers whose contracts have been suspended were covered by the state, as SYRIZA demanded, the state would have run out of cash.
The final draft of the 2021 budget will be tabled in Parliament this Friday, and according to the same source will be based on a forecast for a lockdown extended till December 10.