The government does not see farmers’ struggles as a ‘farmers’ front’ it has to face, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday, the only ‘front’ it sees is that of the problems they have that need to be resolved.
In his weekly review post on social media, the Greek premier referred to several actions by the government, including measures to help the agricultural sector that he announced in parliament on Friday, developments in education, raising minimum monthly wages, reducing unemployment, and the single surgery scheduling list that went into effect on Thursday, the migration issue, the Greek economy’s progress, and progress in public works throughout the country.
For farmers in particular, Mitsotakis said he recognizes their concerns about their future, and said, “Since 2019, we have reduced taxation and insurance rates, provided incentives for further reduction of taxation in cooperative formations, and activated the measure of reimbursing the Special Consumer Tax in fuel for 2022 and 2023. In addition, we reduced VAT in animal feed, fertilizers, and farming machinery, and absorbed the high increases in electricity prices, while the total compensation paid out by ELGA [the farmers’ insurer] from 2019 to the present exceed 1 billion euros.”
Referring to education, the PM said his priority is to support state universities, while university professors are obliged and responsible for the use of online examinations of February, so that students may not miss a semester’s worth of examinations.
Some of the points of the premier’s extensive review post include the following:
– Compensation payouts continue for flood-destroyed Thessaly, with speeded-up procedures and by allowing residents to apply online for additional refunds until the end of February. However, of 31,000 applications, only 4,400 have submitted the required paperwork to receive funding. Farmers in the region who have been hurt by the ‘Daniel’ storm will see their loans fully suspended for two years, to be followed by a five-year plan with zero interest rate, including old debts. This will be completed in 2030.
– By March 22 at the latest, the government will introduce to the cabinet its proposal to raise monthly minimum wage to 950 euros before the end of the government’s four-year term.
– Unemployment dropped three points in December 2023 (to 9.2%), compared to December 2022. For young people, it dropped 8.1 points since the same time last year, to 22.3%.
– Migration arrivals in January fell by 30% compared to December 2023 and by 70% compared to September 2023, particularly noted at the Evros borders, and secondarily at the southeastern Aegean, after pressure to the Turkish side for better collaboration and after stricter controls at the borders.
– According to an IMF resport, the so-called ‘gray’ or illegal economy, a chronic issue in Greece that had reached the equivalent of 30% of GDP in 2013, was reduced to 16% in 2021, especially notable in Attica Region and Crete. IMF has attributed this to the country’s digitization.
– Apropos of today’s World Cancer Day, the PM reminded the public that half of cancers can be prevented with healthy habits and with timely identification. A free mammogram, funded by the Recovery Fund, has already been done for 302,000 women, of whom 20,000 had issues. The free examinations will also eventually be extended to examinations for cervical and colorectal cancers as well.
– Ancient Messini will get a new museum to house 19,000 movable objects, a project of the late archaeologist Petros Themelis who spent 30 years excavating at the large site in the Peloponnese.