Party leaders of opposition parties all criticized the government’s 2021 state budget on Tuesday as not reflecting reality and as being ineffective in the current economic problems the country faces during the pandemic crisis.
On the fifth and final day of an intense parliamentary debate before a roll-call vote late at night, the parties also made their own proposals for measures to protect jobs and social cohesion.
Conservative, regressive, says KINAL
The government’s economic policy is conservative and regressive, and this is reflected in the 2021 state budget, said Movement for Change (KINAL) party leader Fofi Gennimata.
She criticized the government for what she called the overemphasizing of the EU Recovery Fund’s significance for Greece, as “it is not a comprehensive plan for the country’s future, and has not even been discussed with social groups or other political parties.”
Gennimata then underlined KINAL’s three main proposals: voiding the primary surplus targets set for Greece by financial institutions and Brussels; putting pressure on the EU – alongside southern European countries – for a long-term management of Greece’s public debt, and gaining better control of EU recovery funds towards strengthening social insurance policies, the environment and local communities.
Not for workers, says Communist Party
In his speech, the Greek Communist Party’s (KKE) General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoubas said the 2021 state budget and its plans for the handling of the 2020 economic crisis is a “monument of unpopularity,” as it operates “to the detriment of the workers.”
He noted that the budget introduces “indirect taxes that amount to 56 pct of the tax revenues total, and brings a steep increase in the taxation of workers by some 3.5 billion euros more compared to 2020, a move that will bring workers to their knees while expecting a breather in 2021.”
The anti-popular measures are not limited to the 2021 state budget, but they are also apparent in the Pissarides committee report, which he said aims “for a cheaper labor force that costs the state even less.” It also increases taxation and social insurance contributions in favor of big investors, noted the communist party leader.
Riddled with uncertainties, says Greek Solution
Greek Solution party leader Kyriakos Velopoulos said the 2021 is “riddled with uncertainties,” and stressed the need for the drafting of a plan that will see a “realistic” restructuring of the country’s productive economy after the end of the coronavirus health and economic crises.
He too proposed a set of measures against fiscal austerity: the strengthening of exports and the agricultural sector, the direct subsidization of small-and-medium sized businesses (SMEs) from the EU recovery fund, and the suspension of the country’s loan payments to the EU.
MeRA25 calls for MPs to set up debt committee
MeRA25 party leader Yanis Varoufakis said the 2021 state budget will not bring the results it claims, and also called for the creation of a committee that will investigate the economic management by governments over more than 40 years of Greece’s modern political history.
This committee would also look back into the country’s more recent past – from the end of the military junta in 1974 to the present day – and which would try to historically explain the long-term reasons behind Greece’s recent financial crisis and the loan memoranda that began in 2010, he noted.
All it takes to see this committee be created is the signatures of 10 MPS, and 50 signatures to have the issue discussed in a full plenary session, Varoufakis told parliament.