Parties continue debate on 2021 budget, ahead of Tuesday vote

Greek parties continued a heated debate in the Parliament’s plenary session on Monday over the draft state budget for 2021.
The debate, which is in its fourth day, will conclude with a vote on Tuesday night.

The government argues that the draft budget is realistic, promotes development and supports the entirety of Greek people, while the opposition describes it as antisocial and leading citizens to become destitute.

Finance Deputy Minister Apostolos Vesyropoulos rebutted main opposition SYRIZA charges that the plan is a completely insensitive neoliberal plan. “We supported and continue to support the entirety of Greek society – business people, working people, the unemployed – with practical measures and we have instituted measures worth 24 billion euros for 2020,” he said.

Among opposition members, Syriza MP Yiannis Dragasakis called for a permanent inter-party committee of parliament to handle the Recovery Fund resources, being “the only way to guarantee a basic transparency, dialogue and consultation between political forces and other social agencies, as – obviously – the decisions to be taken will exceed the life cycle of a single government.”

He also said the government is likely to need to introduce an additional budget for needs not covered by the current one in Parliament.

Movement for Change (KINAL) MP Haris Kastanidis called on all politicians to prepare a comprehensive and specific national strategy on the fiscal rules to be followed as of 2022 and beyond, cautioning that Germany is pushing for a return to the strict rules of fiscal austerity.

These rules must change in the Eurozone, he said, “otherwise the public debt will become non-viable, and overall recovery in the Eurozone and the EU will fail.”

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Aleka Papariga said she supported Dragasakis’ proposal to handle the 72 billion euros, but said it was doubtful that KKE would be part of that. “We have a radical, absolute difference with [ruling] New Democracy. We are not condemning [it] for incompetence or a lack of a holistic view, or some such thing we hear. We oppose the capitalist system,” she said, because there is no peaceful coexistence between capital and labor, or monopolies and poor working people.