The government will adopt emergency measures amounting to 350 million euros to support poorer households and citizens in December, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Skai 100.3 radio station on Thursday. He said this will include a social solidarity benefit for households in need and those eligible for child benefit, 250 euros in financial assistance for people with disabilities, support for those receiving the minimum guaranteed income and an extra 150 euros for low-income pensioners.
Speaking to the journalist Aris Portosalte, the prime minister spoke about diverse issues, including the Greek capital’s increasing problems with traffic congestion, where he said there were “no easy answers”. Apart from long-term solutions, such as the new metro line, he said that possible short-term solutions were strictly enforced bus lanes and promoting cycling.
He also spoke about a decision to install cameras in the centre of Athens and the use of AI to regulate traffic lights, his upcoming meeting with the mayor-elect of Athens Haris Doukas and the action the government intends to take in response to high prices.
Mitsotakis ruled out a reversal of the pedestrianisation of Vassilisis Olgas Avenue to once again allow cars, saying the aim was to invest in greater use of public transport.
The prime minister said the government’s policy had changed so as to give greater support to families with children in response to declining birth rates and reiterated the government’s determination to tackle tax evasion and the concealment of income by freelance workers, stressing that the core of the new draft bill on taxation will not change. In addition, he noted, the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE) was also managing to “haul in the big fish” as regards tax evasion and described proposals for a “flat tax” as outdated.
“I believe in progressive taxation and I believe that whoever earns more money should by taxed at a higher rate [….] Why would you continue to pursue a profession for many years when for successive years you earn less than the minimum wage? We are taking a step that is substantive but not that drastic. We are taking a first step in recognising a reality that we are all aware of,” he said.
The prime minister also spoke about market inspections that seek to control “greedflation” and high prices and the adoption of “digital contracts” – where he observed that the objections of notaries were “an exaggeration” – and emphasised that the government has been given a mandate to carry out reforms.
“We have a very bold plan for reforms that I want to implement at great speed…The tax reform is most important and will be implemented from January 1, 2024. The reform of the public sector – it is important to reward civil servants based on their performance,” he stressed.
Mitsotakis then spoke about the management of the national health system and its resources, policy for housing, the need to involve private insurance in a time of frequent natural disasters, the efforts underway for a rapprochement in Greek-Turkish relations and the “big disagreement” with the Turkish side regarding Hamas, which he stressed was a terrorist organisation.