Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday urged lawmakers to back the labour ministry bill for supporting workers and vulnerable social groups, describing it as an “important bill” that “adds another package οf measures” to the assistance for households and businesses, while supporting employment by reducing social insurance contributions.
Mitsotakis was addressing Parliament during the debate in the plenary on the bill “Measures to support workers and vulnerable social groups, social security regulations and provisions to support the unemployed”.
“Despite the many difficulties, despite the extremely problematic situation, the government is upholding its contract with the citizens. It is keeping its promises,” Mitsotakis stressed, and referred to the presentation of the Development and Resilience Plan that took place a few hours ago.
“The alternate finance minister made the first presentation of the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience, a draft of which has already been sent to the European Union. As I promised, shortly before the final plan is submitted to the European Commission, it will also come to parliament to be discussed at the level of party leaders,” he added.
The Prime Minister noted that “citizens should be gradually relieved of burdens and at the same time employment should be strengthened. A key element in the bill, which will soon be state law, is the new de-escalation of insurance contributions.”
“We know,” Mitsotakis said, from all international surveys, “that the non-wage cost in our country remains disproportionately high, encouraging the informal economy, discouraging investment, encouraging tax evasion.”
“(The bill) benefits almost two million employees,” the prime minister stressed. “It means an annual profit of 228 euros for the employee with a salary of 1,000 euros. And 456 euros for someone with a salary of 2,000 euros. The scale and benefits for businesses are similar. It is an extremely important intervention for salaried employment, which was particularly hard hit during the pandemic,” he said.
The premier also noted its “favourable provisions” for the labour sector and production in a time of pandemic: “Let me outline some of the important ones. The self-employed and employers can settle debts to the insurance funds in 24 installments. The same goes for those who did not manage to benefit from extensions of recent months. For December, the minimum guaranteed income for the almost 500,000 beneficiaries is doubled. The measure includes, for the first time, homeless people and women, the women victims of violence currently living in hostels. The bill to be voted on today is symbolic.”
“The minimum guaranteed income is now constitutionally guaranteed,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed and added: “It is a mechanism of support for our weakest fellow citizens. It was instituted by the government of New Democracy. It was subsequently reinforced by the SYRIZA government. It was constitutionally ratified on the initiative of New Democracy and now, at a difficult time, the government is doubling the allowance they will receive in December,” he stressed.
“These are measures that have an ideological stamp, but also mirror the way in which we perceive the exercise of the government’s work,” Mitsotakis said. “As the private and public sector cooperated for the common good during the first wave of the pandemic, so in the second wave of the pandemic the sectors of production and labour must meet. It is politically and socially just, inspired by a national perspective, it looks at the overall good of society, without discrimination, without exclusions. We will come out of this crisis standing up, but above all we must come out united.”
To main opposition: All we ever hear from you is ‘No’
Mitsotakis also outlined the government’s actions to reduce insurance payments for employees and to fund small and medium-term enterprises to prevent their bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions on Wednesday.
He criticized sharply main opposition SYRIZA and particularly its leader Alexis Tsipras for his “great skill in distorting things,” and called on him to stop. “Have you said anything about respecting restrictive measures? Have you encouraged citizens to circulate less, observe measures, avoid gatherings? No,” Mitsotakis said to Tsipras on the pandemic, “I have not heard these from you, you have not carried out any campaign as a party.”
The premier denied the health crisis is out of control, as the opposition charged, and said the problems of the health sector cannot be resolved simply by hiring more doctors or staff, it needs support platforms for processing prescriptions, providing e-distance help, and providing a new public policy on health, such as banning smoking in public spaces. He also responded to criticism of partnerships with the private sector that there is no public health system that does not collaborate in one way or another with the public one.
“All we ever hear in official public discourse from the main opposition is a ‘No’ to every government action, and a promise to double what the government currently gives.”
During one week, 225,000 companies received 1.1 billion euros, the premier said. “You may be speaking to companies that complain. But at no time in post-junta Greece has there been a government that moved so fast to support the real economy. You blew up and destroyed the middle class,” he charged.
Addressing all opposition parties, the PM asked them to collaborate on a large public awareness campaign for vaccinations against the novel coronavirus. He expressed his hope that parties will support the effort and not see it as a publicity stunt to buy out the mass media outlets’ support.