Government going all out to contain virus spread
With the growing challenge posed by the coronavirus and its multiple negative effects on the real economy, which will no doubt define his term in office, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reportedly determined to do what it takes to minimize the inevitable effects on society.
Following the government’s decision to close restaurants and cafes, if advised by experts it will make other similar moves, with the exception of public transport, supermarkets and pharmacies.
Indeed, fresh initiatives are reportedly expected ον Monday, which may even include the closing of churches if the decision is not made by religious authorities themselves.
According to reports, there is mounting concern in Maximos Mansion regarding the attitude of the Church hierarchy and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, who avoided taking a clear position on the government’s measures and essentially refrained from discouraging people from going to church and recommending they avoid holy communion.
Tellingly, the prime minister has reportedly contacted the archbishop twice over the last couple of weeks to stress that he has a great responsibility to protect his flock.
However, in spite of the government’s exhortations, the Church’s response was limited to a general statement that it was “standing by the state” and giving out hygiene instructions to worshippers.
With regard to the economy, the advent of the coronavirus means that growth will be lower than predicted in the 2020 budget, and that additional government spending will be needed.
Mitsotakis is looking forward to Monday’s crucial Eurogroup meeting to assess the mood of Greece’s partners. But, as is indicated by the phrase that has been floated that “Keynes is already hovering over Maximos Mansion,” conditions are shifting toward an expansionary economic policy, both in Greece and in the European Union as a whole.
In particular, Mitsotakis is expected to insist that given the available data about the global economy and the country, Greece cannot be asked to achieve the target of a 3.5 percent primary surplus this year.
Moreover, the suspension of increased scrutiny of Greece will also be put on the table, as specific reforms cannot be promoted while the government, the state apparatus and society are focused exclusively on the health crisis.
Finally, Mitsotakis will seek to redistribute existing funds from the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA).