Greece will hold a national election on July 7 with the conservative New Democracy party leading ruling left-wing SYRIZA by 9-11 percentage points in opinion polls after it won European Parliament elections last month by a wide margin.
The following are the main policies of the two contenders:
Conservatives are running on promises of lower taxes and strong growth to generate better paid jobs. Greece has committed to primary budget surpluses of 3.5% of GDP up to 2022 and New Democracy officials insist public finances will remain in line with lenders’ demands. Further down the line, however, they hope to negotiate a lower surplus target.
– Leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to cut corporate tax from 28 percent to 20 percent in the next two years and slash the tax rate on dividends to 5 percent from 10 percent.
– He wants to legislate a growth clause on the minimum wage, meaning increases will be twice the economy’s expansion rate. The minimum wage will rise to 730 euros a month in three years from 650 euros currently, New Democracy projects.
– Tax relief will include cuts in VAT taxes to 22 percent and 11 percent from 24 percent and 13 percent currently and an unspecified reduction in the supplementary solidarity tax on incomes.
– The tax rate on incomes up to 10,000 euros will be lowered to 9 from 22 percent and the top income tax rate will also be reduced to an unspecified percentage from 45 percent now.
– Social security witholdings will be reduced gradually to 15 from 20 percent currently in the next four years.
– It plans incentives for businesses to offer additional benefits to workers, including free transport to work, stock option plans and more insurance coverage.
– Real estate tax (ENFIA) on property owners will be reduced by 30 percent across the board in two years. Also capital gains tax on real estate sales will be ended for three years.
– There will be a 2,000-euro handout for each newborn child.
– It plans to hire 1,500 more police staff to man the so-called DIAS motorized force and strengthen neighborhood patrols.
– In the public sector there will be one new hire for every five retiring workers.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says his plan for the economy will include tax relief for those who suffered more during the crisis years. A lighter tax burden for corporates will also help boost growth with Greece now out of the bailout straitjacket. SYRIZA has not called for a lowering of the budget savings targets agreed with lenders.
– SYRIZA promises 500,000 new jobs in the next four years and 25,000 hirings in the public sector, helping to reduce unemployment to EU averages from 18.5 percent currently.
– The monthly minimum wage will be raised by 7.5 percent in 2020 and by another 7.5 percent in 2021.
– Real estate tax (ENFIA) on property owners will be cut by 30 percent on average in 2020. The planned reduction for small to medium-size property holdings will reach 50 percent.
– The lower income tax rate will be cut to 20 from 22 percent while the solidarity tax for incomes up to 20,000 euros annually will be ended. Tax rates for higher incomes will also go down by an unspecified percentage.
– Tsipras promises further cuts on income tax in small islands with populations of up to 3,100 people as well as lower property tax in islands with no more than 1,000 inhabitants.
– Corporate tax will be gradually lowered to 25 from 28 percent and the VAT tax rate on foods will be cut to 11 from 13 percent.
– In the public sector, the current policy of one new hire for every one retiring civil servant will be maintained.