Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told Parliament’s Economic Affairs Committee on Thursday that the 2018 budget is not fair “in an absolute way,” and raised some eyebrows saying that the government had the option not to vote for it and to call elections instead.
“Is this budget just? That is the question. Fair, in an absolute way, it is not,” he said, adding that “we [the government] recognize this.”
He clarified, however, that “we also recognize that this a budget [drafted] within the specific political and economical conditions [prevailing] in the world and in Europe.”
“We could have said that, since it is unfair, we won’t vote for it and head for elections so that a coalition of New Democracy and PASOK or other parties comes. We didn’t do this,” he said, adding that his government chose to put up a fight instead.
Tsakalotos also dismissed accusations from New Democracy that Greeks are being overtaxed, saying that Greece is only slightly higher than the European Union average in terms of tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product.
However, this does not take into consideration the fact that these revenues are collected from a smaller number of taxpayers compared to other countries due to tax evasion.
Economic analysts said this week that the 2018 budget is based on shaky foundations, while additional taxes and spending cuts adding up to approximately 1.9 billion euros are already on the way.
Forecasts of a 2.5 percent growth rate next year and an increase in the social security fund surplus (that appeared out of the blue to save this year’s budget) are the main sources of concern for the new budget, economists said.