After weeks of trying to get round a table, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and several of his ministers held lengthy talks on Monday with farmers and made a number of proposals aimed at ending their protests against tax and social security contribution rises.
Tsipras was flanked by Agricultural Development Minister Vangelis Apostolou and Labor Minister Giorgos Katrougalos during the meeting, which was attended by the representatives of 52 roadblocks set up by farmers around the country.
The government appeared encouraged by the content of the discussion and believes that the farmers took on board the range of proposals put to them by the ministers. The farmers did not comment after the meeting as they were due to return to their colleagues in the countryside to brief them on what was discussed in Athens.
Sources said the main proposal made to the farmers on Monday was that nobody in the agricultural sector earning less than 20,000 euros per year in income and subsidies would pay more in tax and social security contributions. It remains to be seen if the details of such a plan receive the backing of Greece’s lenders as the consequences for the country’s fiscal gap are not clear.
Another strand to the proposals made by Tsipras and his ministers is that farmers will be able to choose a lower rate of social security contributions (16 percent versus 20 percent from 2021) but then will only be able to claim a pension of 307 euros per month.