Government, opposition clash over tax-free threshold

Government, opposition clash over tax-free threshold

Just as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was preparing to announce a new round of pre-election handouts, conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis deprived the premier of one of the arrows in his quiver by saying he would submit an amendment to revoke a planned reduction in the tax-free threshold.

In an interview with ANT1 television channel, Mitsotakis said he would table the amendment on Monday and called on Tsipras to honor his own pledge on the issue by backing the ND leader’s motion. “If Tsipras means what he says then let’s go and negotiate the non-reduction of the tax-free threshold together and I’ll back it,” Mitsotakis said, apparently referring to Tsipras’ promise last month to ensure there is no reduction, “as long as SYRIZA is in government.”

The comments prompted an angry reaction from Tsipras’ office, which accused the opposition leader of embracing neoliberal policies of the type championed by the International Monetary Fund. Accusing Mitsotakis of originally planning to include a reduction in the tax-free threshold in ND’s program, the statement said, “he rushed to herald an amendment for its abolition after the prime minister’s interview.” “Soon he’ll find himself in the difficult position once again of voting for the PM’s choices for relief measures from the [budget] surplus.”

Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis is on Thursday expected to detail some 1 billion euros in proposed handouts during a Euro Working Group summit. European officials appear skeptical, concerned that the handouts are being funded by cuts to Greece’s public investment program.

Mitsotakis, for his part, accused Tsipras of hypocrisy, offering relief after having imposed austerity.

The ND leader also said he would lodge a censure motion against Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis. Polakis last month accused ND MEP candidate Stelios Kymbouropoulos, who is wheelchair-bound, of using affirmative action laws to get a public sector job and then criticizing those laws.

Mitsotakis described Polakis’ behavior as “vulgar, offensive and… fascist,” and spoke of “a moral duty to eventually restore some kind of basic code of values in politics.” Tsipras has said he will react to a censure motion by calling a vote of confidence in his government.

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