Greek PM Mitsotakis Briefs Tsipras, Gennimata in E-Meetings on Coronavirus Situation

March 17, 2020

ATHENS – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held an e-meeting with SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday evening, and later with Movement for Change (KINAL) leader Fofi Gennimata, to brief them on the coronavirus situation in Greece, using the e-Presence platform.

In the first of the PM’s such meetings with party leaders on the issue, both he and the main opposition leader stressed the importance of staying at home and restricting movements outside it especially in transportation and in crowding. The daily reminder by state authorities, they said, was one of the most rudimentary of protection measures against the new virus.

Tsipras put forward his proposals to strengthen the public health system but also to tackle the effects of what he called ‘the economic epidemic’, urging the prime minister not to hesitate to make use of the 35 billion euros ‘safety pillow’ that the Syriza government handed over to the New Democracy government.

On the economic aspect of the government’s fight against the new virus and sourcing state funds towards it, Tsipras said after the meeting, “I proposed that he (Mtsotakis) should pursue a cut in primary surplus targets by 1.5 pct of GDP this year, around 3 billion euros,” set by the country’s creditors, and urged that a coronavirus crisis budget “spending of at least 1 pct of GDP, or 2 billion euros, be exempted from the budgetary targets. This way, a total of at least 5 billion euros (will be available) to finance the crisis.”

Tsipras also urged Mitsotakis to “add new ICU beds, and immediately announce the hiring of 4,000 permanent medical and nursing staff.”

In addition, the Syriza leader also stressed that the government should “cover all the wage and insurance costs for businesses which must close as a measure against the coronavirus,” and that there should be no redundancies at present. He also underlined that the payment of freelancers’ tax liabilities should be suspended.

On what the banking system could do to help during this time, Tsipras said that “I asked him to intervene so that banks suspend mortgage and business loans for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, and that they should also extend the protection of loans taken out on people’s primary residence equity.”

Mitsotakis held the second and last e-meeting of the day with Gennimata in the evening. He briefed Gennimata on the government’s plan, answered her questions and both exchanged thoughts and suggestions on how to better address the situation.

They both emphasized and reiterated the importance of staying at home as a basic and potentially life-saving measure against the new virus, the central motto of the government’s public campaign against the epidemic.

The prime minister will continue his e-meetings on Tuesday, with Greek Communist Party General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoubas at 13:00 pm and with Greek Solution party leader Kyriakos Velopoulos at 13:30 pm.

On Wednesday at 11:00 am, Premier Mitsotakis will brief MeRA25 General Secretary Yanis Varoufakis.


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