Parliament debates gov’t response to pandemic

Parliament debates gov’t response to pandemic

Party leaders debated the government's response to the coronavirus outbreak in Parliament Thursday.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis lauded his government's response, saying it was the only one that outlawed layoffs. He said the government spent €17.5 billion to prop up incomes and companies and will spend more, when European funds are available.

Mitsotakis said further steps will be taken to help employers and employees. State will subsidize salaries of those furloughed or forced to work part-time. Home ownership will continue to be protected from foreclosures.

Mitsotakis criticized opposition proposals for even more money to be poured into the economy, accusing the formerly governing SYRIZA of still promoting the idea that money grows on trees.

Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras said government response to crisis was belated and inadequate; added that a recession deeper than 4 percent this year, as forecast weeks ago by Bank of Greece governor Yiannis Stournaras, will be the result of Mitsotakis' "inertia, timidity and inability to anticipate the real needs of the economy."

Tsipras accused the government of using the crisis as an excuse to benefit its friends and to weed out "unfit" businesses, especially small and medium ones.

Tsipras criticized the decision to re-open schools, other than for high school seniors, as unnecessarily risky and part of a government PR strategy to show that it is "winning." He added that testing is badly lagging. Tsipras ended by calling for a "broad progressive coalition" in government.

Socialist leader Fofi Gennimata applauded the "medical experts" for their handling of the pandemic, but added that the government is moving ahead without a plan and with its main concern being how it will communicate its policies for its benefit.

Gennimata challenged Mitsotakis to be bolder in demanding that EU aid its poorer members and “not hide behind” French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. She demanded that such aid be made through money transfers, not loans. She also proposed a 3-year suspension of the Stability Pact imposing limits on budget deficits.


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