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Politics

Eyeing 2023 Elections, Mitsotakis Will Dole Out Handouts

ATHENS – Facing a barrage of challenges and looking toward 2023 elections, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reportedly set to release benefits aimed  primarily at the big voting blocs of pensioners and civil servants

Those will be announced Sept. 10 at his keynote address at the Thessaloniki International Fair, said Kathimerini, that being an annual event where Greek leaders tout their accomplishments and give handouts.

His New Democracy government’s lead has slipped in the midst of a spyware and phonetapping scandal, record inflation, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and provocations from Turkey.

Other groups that could see more state aid as the government has been providing subsidies for soaring electric bills and gasoline – but not reducing a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food – include those with low incomes, the unemployed and with big debts, likely with one-time checks, the report said.

Two measures already decided include a rise in pensions in the election year, a favorite tactic of governments wanting to stay in power, and keeping a ban on the dreaded solidarity tax that saw workers paying for the most vulnerable.

It will be costly but a change in elections laws brought by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA ended a 50-seat bonus in the 300-member Parliament for a winning party, making two elections or a coalition more likely.

Raising pensions 6-6.5 percent will cost 600 million euros ($610 million) the report said, coming as the government is trying to aid households, helped by what could be another record tourism year.

Civil servants may also be granted the end of a 1% charge on their salaries that goes to their Welfare Fund but hasn’t been decided, it was said, while the benefit checks will cost another 300 million euros ($305 million.)

Other handouts under consideration include home-buying incentives targeted at young people, giving universities funds to build dormitories and providing incentives for owners of empty properties to develop them, the report added.

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