Beleaguered Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras will reportedly open the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) Sept. 8 by offering hundreds of millions of euros in breaks to people beset by austerity measures he vowed to reject but added to on orders of the country’s international lenders.
Falling hard in polls after reneging on promises to help workers, pensioners and the poor, the Premier will say he will cut the hated ENFIA property tax surcharge by 209 million euros ($243.4 million), the business newspaper Naftemporiki said, after breaking his word to end it.
Also expected are cuts in taxes he just raised as he plans to act unilaterally without checking with the creditors, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
They put up three rescue packages since 2019 of 326 billion euros ($379.65 billion) and warned he will jeopardize a debt relief deal giving Greece until 2060 to repay if he goes too far with breaks that the major rival New Democracy, with big leads in polls, said are designed to woo back voters crushed by brutal measures he implemented after swearing he wouldn’t.
With elections required to be held by October, 2019, Tsipras also still hopes to stop coming additional pension cuts he agreed to impose on Jan. 1 but has run into the creditors saying that it can’t happen although he said they could if a big enough primary surplus – which doesn’t include interest on the debt, the cost of running cities and towns, state enterprises, social security, some military expenditures, and holding back payments to people and company owed money by the state – is big enough.
He’s said to also be contemplating changes in a “solidarity tax,” an income tax surcharge in which workers have money taken out of their checks to help the country’s most vulnerable, and to finally end capital controls he put in place in the summer of 2015 after seeking a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($100.15 billion) he said he never would.
There were also reports he wants to back away from another reform to which he agreed that would lower the tax-free threshold in 2020 and hit low-and-moderate income people with taxes for the first time
TIF is the spot where Greek leaders traditionally give speeches with promises they often don’t keep and this year will draw keen interest with the end of the rescue packages and as Greece trie to move on, although the economy will be scrutinized for years by the creditors.