Contingency plans against unrest

The government appears to be examining emergency plans, albeit with a limited scope but urgent in character, including the proposal for state subsidization of public transport tickets for the poor and discounts for basic commodities for the unemployed. Speaking to journalists in Parliament yesterday, Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos said that one of the government’s plans is to subsidize 20 to 30 percent of the cost of tickets for public transport and of goods such as bread, milk and meat, using funds drawn from the section of the National Strategic Reference Framework that concerns the support of programs to fight unemployment. Loverdos added that this would only be for the unemployed themselves and not for members of their families, possibly through some kind of vouchers, and that the plans are for this to materialize «in February, when we are set to have a period of industrial action,» he said. Such contingency plans are therefore intended to offset the social reaction expected in the coming months, owing to the increasing depth of the financial crisis and the consequences it will have on an ever-growing portion of society. However, this has also opened a new front with the left-wing parties, with the first reaction coming yesterday from Coalition of the Redical Left (SYRIZA) deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis: «The unemployed need work, not alms,» he said, as his party and the Communists are bracing for a strong reaction to the strict financial measures the government has in the pipeline. Loverdos further suggested yesterday that the prospects for the social security system are nightmarish and that, unless the major changes required are made now, by June «the system will be bankrupt.» He added that an extra sum of 3.8 billion euros will then be required from the budget, and in 2011 will soar to 5.2 billion euros.

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