ATHENS — The government's budget for 2021 appeared to be "out of touch with reality" while Finance Minister Christos Staikouras was "deliberately massaging" the figures on public spending, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance spokesperson Nasos Iliopoulos asserted on Wednesday in statements on the state radio station "ERT First Programme".
"In a country that mourns the deaths of 3,259 of our fellow citizens between November and this day as a result of the pandemic, the government submitted a budget that cut spending on health by 600 millions euros," Iliopoulos underlined.
"Yet again," he added, Mr. Staikouras said that the government had carried out emergency spending amounting to 24 billion euros to cope with the pandemic. On the basis of the latest figures on the execution of the budget, however, the emergency spending due to the coronavirus was just 6.7 billion euros and, of these, 3.1 billion euros were given as loans!"
At the same time, Iliopoulos said, nearly one million furloughed workers would have their Christmas bonus cut, since it will be calculated on the basis of 534 euros instead of their normal wage, while doctors in state hospitals were still waiting for overtime pay owed to them for the past six months.
He was also strongly critical of the Pissarides report for bringing back austerity policies that cut wages and rolled back labour rights that had already been proved to be both socially unjust and economically inefficient during the early years of the memorandum programmes, since they had increased unemployment and deepened the recession.
Iliopoulos repeated a call to increase Covid-19 testing by prescribing tests, so that the spread of the virus can be adequately tracked, as wellas the the "real requisitioning" of private clinics to assist in the fight against the virus and better protection in work places.
Regarding the budget for defence spending, the spokesperson accused the government of "preparing for defence purchases without a plan" in a bid to hide the dead ends in foreign policy after coming away from the recent European Council without any sanctions imposed on Turkey.