OPINION

Expensive pre-election promises

The budget is not being revised due to the global financial crisis after all, but because of the farmers’ blockade of the national highways. The government is now planning to return 11 million euros of the special consumption tax to farmers, while the Ministry of Agricultural Development has announced a package of direct funding to the tune of 120 million euros. The Hellenic Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) had planned to shell out 200 million euros for all of 2009 in compensation for damaged or unsold crops but, in just this first month of the year, the cost has already reached 425 million euros. It is also common knowledge that ELGA is borrowing heavily so that it can have the cash to pay farmers. The total of subsidies to farmers will reach the record level of 1 billion euros once all is said and done. The fact is that during all pre-election periods, such as the one we seem to be entering, promises end up costing the taxpayer dearly. In this case, however, all we can do is hope that this won’t be the most expensive pre-election period we ever witness.