“We are close to society,” said Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, intervening in the budget debate. The Minister of Finance referred to the tax cuts and the efforts to support households in the increases of the electricity tariffs due to the energy crisis, the measures to support the disposable income, the course of the economy, the measures to support the disposable income and the forthcoming increase. of the minimum wage.

Tax cuts, electricity bills

The Minister of Finance, commenting on the positions of the general and special rapporteurs of the opposition, noted that there were no repeated references to “bankruptcies, rising unemployment, impoverishment” that had been mentioned in last year’s budget debate. “Fortunately for the country, the opposition was refuted, which is why the same words were not repeated today.”

“We have never presented a rosy situation”, said Christos Staikouras and added: “The citizens have recently received or are receiving three fluidity injections. The tax clearance, ENFIA property tax and PPC. The vast majority saw reduced tax clearances. This government has helped to reduce taxes significantly. As for ENFIA property tax, for the past two years, the whole society, with special emphasis on the lower income strata, has been paying an average lower ENFIA. Indeed, we have the energy crisis, in which the citizens, not the lower income strata that have the Social Tariff, pay, despite the interventions, the continuous and successive interventions of the government, higher bills. This is the truth. But if anyone looks at minus signs are obvious, the effort of PPC to cover the most important of this really big increase of the tariffs. And we will continue to do so. And we will probably do it even more intensely, as the crisis continues. But the reality is that in this field, too, we are close to society, to the extent possible. ”

The recovery

The Minister of Finance said that the third quarter of 2021 is the best of the last decade and this is a significant achievement for society itself and its efforts.

“When unemployment falls and, according to the data, this is the biggest decline in European countries in the last two years, we can only acknowledge that. It is the efforts, collectively of society and government, minus 3% in the last two years, when the average in Europe is plus 0.2%. When the disposable income of the citizen, due to the reduction of taxes has increased in 2021, we can not hide this, it is a conquest of the country,” said Christos Staikouras and added that “in the second quarter of 2021, the disposable income of households is higher than the second quarter of 2019. That is, before the health crisis.”

The minister said that the citizens’ deposits have been increasing every month for two years.

“In October, when the price crisis started, deposits increased by 500 million euros. The turnover of companies, in the 9 months of 2021, is the turnover of companies in the 9 months of 2019. That is why it is justified that there is an increase in deposits because, close to them, the state came and gave 43 billion euros, strengthening a picture in the real economy that had reached in 9 months, to the level of 2019. That is why the strong recovery has happened. Poverty has shrunk. Investments have been boosted. Exports have reached a record level, only in the 9 months, 10 months of the year”, said the Minister of Finance and stressed that these data reflect a good picture and good prospects for the Greek economy.

The risks

At the same time, however, Christos Staikouras did not deny that things “are not idyllic” given the health and energy crisis.

“There are risks ahead of us. They are perfectly reflected in the budget. The government has methodically, insightfully, coherently built cash, to be secure for any development in 2022, in monetary policy”, said the minister and insisted “the big picture is good, the prospects are positive but yes, there are risk problems that must be dealt with, with more accuracy today, that the problem is acute, is more acute than the initial estimates at European level. It takes longer than the initial estimates. However the common conception is that it is temporary. ”

Support of disposable income

“The State should augment the disposable income of citizens with permanent interventions. With permanent tax reductions. We are also coming up with short-term measures, amounting to 1.1 billion euros, so far, and we are helping citizens cope with the energy crisis and we will make two minimum wage raises. The first, already from 1.1.2022 “, said Christos Staikouras.

“We will increase it by 2%, starting on 1.1.2022 and there will be a second increase in the minimum wage,” said the Minister of Finance.

Commenting on what was previously stated by the Head of Economy of SYRIZA Efi Ahtsioglou, Mr. Staikouras said: “Ms. Ahtsioglou submitted a table that says that Spain on September 28, 2021 increased the minimum wage. I guess you are advising us to do this increase in the minimum wage. How much? From 950 euros to 965 euros. That is 1.6%. Is this your suggestion? We are making a 2% increase and we will continue to do so “, said Christos Staikouras.

“We have challenges ahead of us. We recognize that the country has high but sustainable debt. We recognize that the country is the only one under enhanced surveillance. And it is not in the investment grade. Great challenges lie ahead for us. But we are coming up with a far-sighted, prudent fiscal strategy, with early repayment of the IMF, with early repayment of bilateral loans with eurozone member states, to demonstrate the seriousness with which we face the present and the future of the country,” said the finance minister.

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