ATHENS – After saying there wasn’t enough money to provide Greek households struggling with rising costs from energy to food and gasoline, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said maybe there is after all.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has turned his attention away from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic to key on a faster economic recovery after his New Democracy government poured scores of billions of euros into helping laid-off workers and closed businesses during lockdowns.
Now aid is being offered up to 80 percent of the cost of electric bills that have nearly doubled, exacerbated by the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that’s still going on, affecting world markets.
Staikouras said Saturday that his ministry is “seeking fiscal leeway” for new support measures in July, to relieve the pressure from rising costs for households, said Kathimerini about the shifting government positions.
He said the ministry will know by June’s end whether more can be done on rising fuel prices but added that “not much can be done” about the unified tax on fuel that he said can’t be cut.
“If we were to reduce this tax by 20 cents of a euro the overall cost for the state would reach 20 billion euros,” he said, with most of the cost of gasoline for consumers being taxes.
He said buffers had been spent cutting the hated ENFIA property tax surcharge and electric bill costs although the government has diverted an untold amount of money from 32 billion euros ($34.3 billion) to telecommunications and 5G projects instead of helping consumers.
He also said that also reducing a solidarity tax which required wage earners to pay benefits to the most vulnerable would cost another 450 million euros ($482.35 million) as a further drain on resources.