Farmers unmoved by government’s concessions

Agricultural Development Minister Athanasios Tsaftaris on Thursday fleshed out a package of measures for protesting farmers, who are demanding tax breaks and other concessions from the government, as unionists expressed dissatisfaction with the proposal.

Tsaftaris said that authorities had approved the return of 250 million euros in the rebate of special consumption tax on fuel – 150 million euros less than last year. The minister confirmed that farmers would benefit from cheaper nighttime electricity rates from July and that an early retirement program would be extended to apply to all farmers aged over 64.

His reassurances appeared to fall on deaf ears however. Farmers in central and northern Greece, who have been threatening to block key road junctions unless they receive concessions, called for protest rallies and meetings over the weekend, when they are to decide whether to scale up their action.

Speaking in Thessaloniki, the head of the union representing farmers from the central town of Karditsa, Vangelis Voutas, rejected the measures proposed by the government, noting that “they offer no relief at all” and accusing authorities of trying to confuse the public. Unionists from Nikaia dismissed the measures as “peanuts.”

Earlier this week, farmers who sell their products at outdoor markets gathered outside the offices of the Agricultural Ministry and handed out tons of free fruit and vegetables to pensioners and the unemployed.

The farmers, who were demanding lower production costs, were besieged by thousands of Athenians who snapped up the free produce.

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