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At the nadir of their popularity, PASOK remembered the poorest

13 December 2012 / 21:12:59  GRReporter
1854 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Days before the vote on the bill for the new tax system, PASOK's leader Evangelos Venizelos announced 5 measures to protect the most vulnerable social groups. The "Greens" have differentiated the measures in a draft proposal which they intend to submit to Parliament.

These include:

- Not to cut pensions and bonuses for people with severe disability,

- Not to cut allowances for the disabled and children,

- To extend the health insurance period for the long-term unemployed, in order to reduce the number of uninsured,

- The increase in retirement age not to apply to employees and freelancers who stayed at work or stopped working from early 2011 to the end of 2012 and expect to retire in 2013 under the old legislation.

- To equalise retirement conditions for farmers and those for employees and freelancers.

Evangelos Venizelos said that his party had made these proposals at the time of discussion of the tax bill, but the final text included only those regarding the disabled. Then, they were also removed, "due to pressure by the Troika."

PASOK stated that they will bring the measures for discussion in Parliament, because they believe that managing social cohesion is very important now, "when we are going through these difficult six months, which, however, are also bringing hope, and after these, we expect improvement in the economy and primary budget surpluses." Evangelos Venizelos said that the measures would cost the state about 122 million euro, "which is nothing compared to the other costs." According to him, the money could be separated from other taxes," without affecting any other social group."

PASOK's leader said that the measures could be introduced and discussed as a supplement to other bills. According to the former Minister of Employment, these would affect nearly 500,000 Greeks, as the majority of them are unemployed and disabled. 25,000 people suffer severe disability and 22,000 receive benefits because of low income. "In the category of the unemployed, we have included only those who have no access to health services," explained George Koutroumanis.

It is interesting that the measures in favour of the poorest Greeks were proposed by the party which ruled Greece until recently, and were announced by Evangelos Venizelos, who was Finance Minister for a year - from June 2011 to June 2012. He did not explain why he could not implement measures during his term in the government of PASOK, when some of the toughest measures were taken and which had the most severe consequences for these specific categories of citizens, in particular.

The leader of PASOK did not miss the opportunity to use the presence of media representatives to announce that "the measures are an opportunity for Parliament to start discussing drafts again, instead of just voting and ratifying legislative acts."

He emphasized two other proposals submitted by his party after the elections: for the protection of households burdened with payment of numerous bank loans and for the utilisation of energy reserves. They were presented as a continuation of "the efforts of the PASOK government to ease the tax burden on citizens."

At the same time, Evangelos Venizelos confirmed the party's support to the other two partners in the coalition government and said that "we are here to help, not to create problems for the government. Coordination between the three leaders is more than necessary. Communication between us is constant and we have agreed to make it even more effective."

According to some sources, however, things are not running so smoothly, especially when it comes to the appointment of new members to the state apparatus. Representatives of New Democracy reacted very strongly to the choice of the Chief Revenue Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, who would be responsible for collecting taxes.

This is Professor of Economics at the Economic University of Athens Nikolaos Karavitis who enjoys the trust of Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras. So far, Antonis Samaras has not announced his final decision, but his party said it was not possible for this particular department to be headed by someone who was involved in the creation of the false statistics for the Greek economy - the so-called Greek statistics.

According to sources, the reaction of the European Commission was similar when they found out that the former Chief Secretary of the Greek Statistical Office was preparing to head Greece's tax apparatus.

Tags: Politics Evangelos Venizelos PASOK measures for the poor taxes
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