Hand­outs from over­tax­a­tion

Tsipras an­nounces 1.4 bln eu­ros for low-in­come cit­i­zens as po­lit­i­cal pres­sure mounts on gov­ern­ment

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

In a bid to seize the ini­tia­tive and to shift the fo­cus of pub­lic de­bate away from the re­cent po­lit­i­cal prob­lems bur­den­ing the gov­ern­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras an­nounced plans yes­ter­day evening to dis­trib­ute 1.4 bil­lion eu­ros of the coun­try’s fis­cal sur­plus – de­rived pri­mar­ily from the over­tax­a­tion of the coun­try’s be­lea­guered mid­dle in­come earn­ers – to cit­i­zens on low in­comes.

Tsipras said that 720 mil­lion eu­ros of this so-called so­cial div­i­dend will go to 3.4 mil­lion cit­i­zens in the form of a one-off fi­nan­cial handout.

Another 315 mil­lion eu­ros will be paid to pen­sion­ers who had been il­le­gally forced to pay health in­surance con­tri­bu­tions in the pe­riod be­tween 2012 to 2016.

The re­main­ing 360 mil­lion eu­ros will be given to the Pub­lic Power Cor­po­ra­tion (PPC) to pre­vent fur­ther hikes in the price of elec­tric­ity.

The move came as the left­ist-led coali­tion strug­gles to deal with the out­cry caused by the re­lease last week on a two-day fur­lough of Dim­itris Koufo­d­i­nas, a hit­man of the de­funct No­vem­ber 17 ter­ror group, and the up­roar sur­round­ing the way De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos han­dled the re­cent agree­ment for the sale of mis­siles and weapons to Saudi Ara­bia.

The lat­ter is­sue, which has also caused fric­tion within rul­ing SYRIZA, has been down­played by the gov­ern­ment, which of­fered its full back­ing to Kam­menos, who is also the leader of the ju­nior coali­tion part­ner In­de­pen­dent Greeks (ANEL).

But op­po­si­tion par­ties, which have ac­cused Tsipras of try­ing to cover up what they have de­scribed as a scan­dal, upped the ante again in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day with two ques­tions – one signed by a group of con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers and the other by Demo­cratic Align­ment MP Andreas Lover­dos – de­mand­ing that Tsipras takes a stand on the Kam­menos af­fair.

For the time be­ing, New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis is mulling the idea of sub­mit­ting a cen­sure mo­tion against the gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, the coali­tion re­port­edly sees any move of this sort as an ef­fort to rally the con­ser­va­tive par­lia­men­tary group and to di­vert pub­lic at­ten­tion from the in­clu­sion of Mit­so­takis’s wife in the Par­adise Pa­pers list.

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