ATHENS – Trying to claw back in polls with elections coming, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA is set to give people who can’t pay what they owe to the state – which hammered them with big tax hikes and new tariffs – a 10-year installment plan.
That had caused worry from the country’s creditors, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) that put up a third bailout in 2015 for 86 billion euros ($96.25 billion).
The 120-monthly installment plan, political rivals said, was a transparent attempt by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to pretend to care about the concerns of those his government had buried under more austerity he vowed to reject but imposed on orders of the Troika.
SYRIZA is far behind the major opposition New Democracy with elections required to be held by October and Tsipras’ strategy has also included handouts to those in the most vulnerable sector he said he would protect.
“Our plan helps those who are struggling to pay but cannot. We have been through the biggest crisis seen in a capitalist country; they don’t have the liquidity (to pay),” Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters, said Kathimerini.
He earlier admitted that the government deliberately overtaxed the middle class so it would have money to hand out to poorer sectors and now said that has led to some 4.2 million people owing money to the state.
That includes those who owe social security contributions but haven’t paid which had led to some 80,000 people who retired still not getting their benefits, which had taken up to two years to receive and as they are barred from working as retirees.
The bill, coming just ahead of the May 26 elections for Greek municipalities and the European Parliament with SYRIZA trailing in races for both, would also offer discounts of 65 percent of arrears including surcharges, plus minimum monthly repayments of 50 euros ($55.96,) depending on annual income and some other criteria.