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Economy

Citing Deficit, Finance Chief Says Greece Can’t Afford Tax Cuts

ATHENS – Although Greece has diverted to other programs some monies from 32 billion euros ($34.37 billion) from European Union COVID-19 pandemic relief loans and grants, there isn’t enough to give beleaguered households any tax relief, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said.

“Greece will have a primary deficit this year, as spending will again exceed revenue,” he said after earlier giving optimistic reports about growth and a faster economic rebound although the pandemic is lingering.

“So voices calling for more support measures, such as cutting a special consumption tax on fuel, means that they support a higher fiscal deficit, higher interest rates and costs, measures that will lead to more burdens for households and enterprises in the medium term,” he said, reported Kathimerini.

Speaking in Parliament, he said that the New Democracy government had pumped billions of aid into helping workers and businesses during COVID lockdowns and now to subsidized spiraling enery costs and electric bills.

“We proved it during the pandemic and during the energy crisis. Whenever there is fiscal space the state returns this to society and particularly to those on medium and low incomes,” he said, adding that during the energy crisis Greece offered twice the amount of money compared with the European average to support households and enterprises, the paper said.

The government had said it would consider reducing the 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food as costs are soaring and many households and families are cutting back on necessities.

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