ATHENS – With the September keynote speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on the horizon, Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is heading to France and Germany to promote his plans for economic growth to help accelerate a recovery from a more than 9 ½-year-long economic crisis.
He will first meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and on Aug. 29 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had insisted on harsh austerity measures for Greece with her country putting up the bulk of 326 billion euros ($362.03 billion) in three international bailouts as a lifeline.
While Mitsotakis’ and Merkel’s party both belong to the center-right European People’s Party (EPP,) she has already indicated there will be no undue break given him as he seeks to reset the 3.5 percent of primary surplus of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) requirement.
Mitsotakis initially wants to show he’s doing something to kick start projects stymied by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that held back the 8-billion euro ($8.88 billion) development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport and plans by the Chinese company COSCO to renovate the port of Piraeus, including a new mall.
He also said he will cut taxes, including bringing down the corporate rate from 29 percent set by SYRIZA to 20 percent over two years as another way of attracting foreign investors being fought off by hard-core elements in the Leftists.
New Democracy will bring to the Parliament it controls, with 158 of the 300 votes there, a growth plan over the use of land, to streamline licensing for businesses and offer incentives for foreign investors, especially in tourism.
He is expected to also detail his plans to the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) that gave the SYRIZA government an 86-billion euro ($95.51 billion) third bailout in 2015.
Mitsotakis aims to use TIF – traditionally where Greek premiers unveil economic policy and pledge handouts – to outline his plan for medium-term growth, said Kathimerini and “dislodge the country from mediocrity.”
He wants to balance that with keeping social welfare programs for the country’s most vulnerable who have been the hardest hit during the economic crisis, sources which weren’t named told the paper, and to show he’s not an elitist as former Premier Alexis Tsipras characterized him.