This was pointed out by the Minister of National Economy and Finance, Kostis Hatzidakis, speaking today to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs of the Parliament in the context of the debate on the draft of the State Budget for 2024.
“The universe has not conspired in favor of the Greek government so that we have continuous upgrades of the credit rating of the economy. The rating agencies see that we are implementing the right mix of economic policy and that after the elections there is political stability and a positive outlook. There is a window of opportunity that we must do everything we can to take advantage of».
This was pointed out by the Minister of National Economy and Finance, Kostis Hatzidakisspeaking today to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs of the Parliament in the context of the debate on the draft of the State Budget for 2024.
Mr. Hatzidakis presented the six objectives of the economic policy for the next year which are:
First, addressing the effects of the climate crisis with immediate action to repair the damage. “The government, as any government would, will pay particular attention to Thessaly and all the regions that have suffered the consequences of the climate crisis. The opinion that Thessaly will not be supported because the regional governor was not supported by the New Democracy is a huge blunder which I ignore,” said Mr. Hatzidakis.
Secondly, the increase of investments and especially public investments from the NSRF and the Recovery Fund. As the Minister said, at yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers of Economy of the E.U. data were presented according to which Greece is one of the pioneer countries in terms of absorbing the resources of the Recovery Fund.
Thirdly, health support, which is the Prime Minister’s declared goal. A 15% increase in hospital subsidies is already foreseen in the draft budget.
Fourth, the support of citizens’ income, including with increases in the salaries of civil servants after 14 years which are equivalent to an annual benefit of 1,476 euros per year on average, the lifting of the three-year freeze for private sector employees, the increase of the tax-free for families with children, the 8% increase in the minimum guaranteed income from December and the increase in pensions from the first of January. “These”, he emphasized, “are also connected with dealing with the consequences of inflation with permanent aid».
Fifth, the continuation of the business-friendly policy.
“We try to keep the tax rates and if there is a possibility to see de-escalation. We have in mind the abolition of the pretense tax. Surely from 2025 there will be a further reduction in insurance contributions, because investments are the only way to create jobs and for the state to support a healthy social policy“, underlined Mr. Hatzidakis.
Sixth, dealing with tax evasion, an issue in which, as he said, steps have been taken by other governments, but which are not sufficient. The VAT loophole, noted the minister, which was 24% has been reduced to 14% and the aim is to go to 9% which is the EU average, which will ensure 2 billion euros of additional revenue per year.
“2024,” he said, “will be a year with higher growth, more investment and exports, lower debt, inflation and unemployment. On all fronts the situation will develop positively for the country. When there is more investment, exports and serious fiscal policy, which is the foundation for all of this, we are not only sending a message to the markets, investors and abroad, but we are creating the conditions for things to go well for Greece and the Greeks and that it will have an even greater reflection on the everyday lives of citizens».
Mr. Hatzidakis noted that soon the initiatives to connect cash registers with POS, to deal with smuggling, as well as for a fair system of taxation of the self-employed will be legislated. As he pointed out, the aim is not to impose higher rates, but “to turn to those who evade tax and to face the problem with the help of new technologies, electronic transactions and cross-borders”. He noted that no social group is targeted, but also that there cannot be two-speed citizens.
Presenting the results of the economic policy, which was implemented in the previous four years, he recalled that from 2019, while the tax rates were reduced, we have an increase in State revenues due to the development of the economy, the increase in tourism, salaries – pensions as well as the extensive use of electronic transactions.
He added that despite the coronavirus and the energy crisis, in the previous four years we had an increase in investments, only in 2022 by 48%, a record of all the last decades in exports, a de-escalation of the debt from 172% of GDP in 2022 to 159% in 2023 and 152 %, as projected in 2024, unemployment down from 17.5% in 2019 to 10.8% last August.
“We are not going to reinvent the wheel. We are trying to take data from the advanced countries of the European Union and apply it here. In this way we have made very significant progress since 2019 and will continue to do so. Because you don’t demolish a building that is right. We are doing our patriotic duty, especially after the terrible decade that preceded it, to meet the expectations of the citizens, because that is what our conscience says. 2024 will be an even more positive year not because we predict it, but because we create the conditions for things to go well for Greece and the Greeks“, concluded Mr. Hatzidakis.
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