“The reduction of unemployment will not happen automatically. If the country falls into instability and lack of governance, we will not be talking about a decline, but a rise in unemployment. The myth of Sisyphus should not be confirmed. We have come a long way and we must not waste the progress achieved in the last 4 years, in the name of a policy that reminds us of Santa Claus and refers to what SYRIZA was saying in 2015”.

This was pointed out by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Kostis Hatzidakis, speaking today at the Delphi forum, while in response to a related question he described as “stupid” the proposal of SYRIZA for the renationalization of PPC, as it means an expenditure of 3 billion euros by the State for the acquisition of the control of the business, which he already has!

Mr. Hatzidakis pointed out that the government’s forecast for a drop in unemployment below 10%, which will mean the “unfreezing” of the three years and therefore a significant increase in the income of workers, is based on forecasts for the growth rate of the economy in the coming years ” on the condition that serious policies are pursued.”

He also recalled that the tax, insurance, licensing and labor policy as well as the message of seriousness and stability sent by the government led to a drop in unemployment to 11.4% from 17.5% in 2019, 300,000 additional jobs and, even in historical record in the employment balance (hiring – firing) in March 2023 since 2001 when the measurement began.

Answering questions about the political developments, Mr. Hatzidakis emphasized that the May elections are the most important because from them the foundations will be laid either for a coalition government or for the second round. “If we have second elections, let’s start from a base that will allow Greece to have an independent and stable government. New Democracy starts with good conditions to achieve self-reliance in the next elections”, said the Minister. He also mentioned that on the one hand we have a group with a leader, executives, a plan and an agenda while on the other hand a “blind date” is proposed, with various forms of cooperation that they themselves negate or a government of tolerance.

The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs noted that in the coming days there will be specific announcements on the extension of the Digital Work Card to DEKOs – including railway companies and transport DEKOs. “Our goal is to further expand the measure that is already applied to banks, supermarkets, insurance companies and security companies. Right after the elections we want to move forward with industry and then with catering and tourism.”

Referring to the issue of pending pensions, Mr. Hatzidakis emphasized that from January 2021 to March 2023, 570,000 main pensions were issued. “In other words, 1 in 16 adult Greeks got a pension within these 27 months, many of whom waited 2.5 or even 7 years. Essentially, the issue of outstanding main pensions has been resolved. We have taken similar measures for supplementary pensions and now the payment of the so-called parallel pensions, where the numbers are much smaller, also begins. To get there we took measures “outside the box”. We clashed with the lovers of immobility, as whatever we proposed was fought by the opposition and EFKA trade unionists. But we didn’t back down. In the context of our initiatives is 1555 which is a line to “get an edge” with EFKA and the services of the Ministry of Labor but also the wider modernization of EFKA which includes what we did at PPC, that is the selection of General Managers and Directors and from the private sector with three-year contracts and with increased fees. The cost-benefit analysis is clearly in favor of this arrangement.” As Mr. Hatzidakis characteristically said, “I prefer to hear the criticism that I put on “golden boys” than to be one of the many who passed away leaving behind not work, but words and public relations”.

Finally, in a question about SYRIZA’s position regarding the renationalization of PPC, he spoke of a stupid proposal as, in addition to the legal complications, it means that the State will have to give 3 billion euros in order to have the control of PPC which it already has! “The managing director of PPC is the one he was before the reduction of the State’s percentage from 51 to 33%. I’m sorry for the term, but the proposal is just stupid,” concluded Mr. Hatzidakis.