Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Friday announced a financial support handout worth 600 euros per person through a vocational programme for doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. and other freelance professionals, budgeted at 180 million euros.
In comments made to Thema FM radio station, Staikouras also said that the ministry will announce measures later on Friday for bank cheques maturing by the end of March, while next week the government will add more professions to its economic support measures. He urged banks to “go faster” and to offer debt settlement and debt payment suspension proposals, while he noted that a regime of primary residence protection will be re-examined in April (the regime ends in April 30).
Commenting on the use of cash buffers, Staikouras said that the government will use all available means when needed in coordination with EU decisions, borrowing cost, the course of the crisis and the country’s needs. “If there was not a crisis, we would have returned to capital markets,” he said, adding: “obviously, we won’t return at a prohibitive cost, we will not hurry”. He underlined that the government’s strategy to reduce taxes will not change, despite the temporary increase in spending, and said that the government was not examining any salary cuts in the public sector. He reiterated that, according to a basic scenario (the crisis ending in June), the Greek economy will contract by 3.0 pct this year, compared with a 5.0 pct contraction in Europe, and acknowledged that Greece could face problems with tourism this year. “Obviously, there are significant problems with creative solidarity in Europe,” due to the stance of Germany and other countries on a proposal to issue a eurobond, Staikouras said, adding that a precautionary credit line from the European Stability Mechanism will be accompanied by a memorandum of cooperation, while other issues are also open, such as accessibility, the amount of capital, the participation or not of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a debt sustainability report.