A draft bill to mitigate economic repercussions of the Mediterranean hurricane “Ianos” and additional provisions to help those affected by the coronavirus repercussions was voted in parliament plenary on Monday.
Overall, in principle, New Democracy and the Movement for Change (KINAL) voted in favor, while main opposition SYRIZA and Greek Solution voted “present”. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and MeRA25 voted against. SYRIZA, Greek Solution and MeRA25, however, voted for several articles related to Ianos.
The entire opposition voted against the article doing away with bidding for communication and public information services related to the coronavirus. The government proposed that a provider be chosen through negotiation. In addition, the entire opposition except MeRA25 voted for the article calling for higher funding to meet needs in public education.
Responding to main opposition questions, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said, “Obviously, no finance minister could be happy when his country is entering deep recession,” adding that “the situation remains nevertheless under control.” He cited as example that Greece had a recession rate of 8 pct in the first half of 2020, when “the average rate – according to preliminary Hellenic Statistical Service data – is at 9 pct and the southern (European) countries start at 9.3 pct in Portugal to 11.7 pct in Italy, 12.3 pct in France and 13.1 pct in Spain. This means this government is probably doing something well, to limit the difficult economic and social repercussions of the pandemic.”
Staikouras reiterated, “The country will enter, and already is, in a deep recession. We hope, we expect that 2021 will bring a strong recovery. This will be reflected in the draft plan of the state budget, next week.”
Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Vesyropoulos said that “the Mitsotakis government’s central policy is the reduction of taxes.” Responding to the opposition, he said that VAT was reduced to 13 pct in transport, movie theaters, coffee and non-alcoholic beverages served at restaurants and food places, to October 2020, to help the sectors of tourism and food. Under this bill, he said, the reduction will be extended to April 30, 2021.