Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Saturday a new package of economic measures aimed to alleviate society’s strain from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, reforms to keep Greece firmly on the growth trajectory, as well as fresh defense expenditure to further boost the country’s deterrent ability.
Outlining his government’s economic policy for the next 12 months, during a key policy speech at the Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum, in the city port of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, he announced a series of immediate tax cuts, benefits, reductions in social security contributions and programs to boost liquidity and investments in order to ease burdens from employees, pensioners, the unemployed and businesses.
For example, the state will provide subsidies for six months for 100,000 new positions, abolish a special property tax for the inhabitants of the 26 smallest islands, and extend until April 2021 the suspension of tax and social insurance obligations to professions hit by the pandemic.
In addition, the Greek government will continue reforms to support employment and growth by further reducing bureaucracy and improving the function of public sector services, and by introducing new rules for debt settlement to the state and banking sector, Mitsotakis said.
“Nothing in the world is the same as yesterday,” he told a small audience symbolically comprising 50 representatives of all walks of life, during his address which was broadcast on Greek national broadcaster ERT.
“However, the crisis cannot become an alibi for stalling the implementation of great changes… Our program of actions has an underlying motto: confidence faced with the challenges ahead, confidence in defense, in healthcare and in the economy,” he said.
Regarding the battle against the pandemic, Mitsotakis promised more ICUs beds and hirings of thousands more doctors and nurses.
Amidst tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea lately over maritime borders and the exploitation of energy reserves, the Greek leader spoke extensively also about the new 18 Rafale military aircraft, four Navy helicopters, four frigates and other armaments Greece is purchasing as well as a plan of staff reinforcement with 15,000 men and women for five years in order to strengthen its national defense.
Mitsotakis accused Ankara of “undermining peace throughout the Mediterranean,” adding that “It threatens the borders of Europe and undermines security in a crucial crossroad of three continents.”
The new weapons procurement program comes amid heightened tensions with Turkey over resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Its announcement dominated almost half of Mitsotakis’ speech here.
“After the end of the current health adventure and tensions with Turkey, spring for the economy and our society may arrive sooner than expected,” the Greek leader added.
Tensions have flared up between Turkey and Greece over energy explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean waters in recent weeks. They have overlapping maritime claims in the region.