ATHENS – The first weekly progress report posted on Facebook last week was received with such unexpected positive response, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday, that it prompted him to “repeat this form of communication (….) so that you have a fuller picture of how we work and what our concerns are.”
In a Sunday posting on the past week, Mitsotakis spoke of the following issues:
– Economy: The European Commission gave two positive assessments, he said. First, it approved the disbursement of the last installment from the European central banks’ profits on Greek state bonds (outstanding since the last government), and abolished the “punitive” higher interest Greece paid on its debt while under surveillance (which ended after 12 years in August 2022). This will result in nearly 770 million euros in revenues for the state budget and a savings of 5.2 billion euros in interest rates payable long-term to the European Stability Mechanism, he noted, which “gives us greater opportunity to spend these funds for the more vulnerable.” Greece in 2022 achieved the greatest reduction of public debt (nearly 30 points) as a ratio to GDP in all 27 EU member states, he pointed out.
In addition, he said, the Commission approved the disbursement of the 2nd instalment of Recovery and Resilience Fund money, 3.56 billion euros, after Greece applied early for it, having completed 28 reforms ahead of time.
In 2022, the year will end with a 5.6% growth rate (double the average rate in the EU), and unemployment at 12.7% (below the forecast of 14.2%), while the 2023 budget – tabled in Parliament on Monday – foresees new fiscal interventions of 4.2 billion euros through an end to certain taxes and a rise in pensions (7.75%) after 12 years.
– People with disabilities: The digital card for the disabled, demanded by the disabled movement since 1991 and legislated in 1996, and the accessibility of the Acropolis site to disabled fellow-citizens will improve their quality of life.
– Shipping, a sector with unresolved issues, welcomed on Friday the first commercial ship to be repaired at the Elefsina Shipyards after years.
– Infrastructure: A total of 88 projects with guaranteed funding, that will turn Patras into the western entry/exit gateway to Greece. The overall plan will contribute an additional 7.5 billion euros to the Achaia prefecture GDP, and thousands of new jobs, according to economic experts, Mitsotakis said.
– Foreign policy: Greece and Egypt signed a key agreement on search & rescue areas on Tuesday. This helps delineate the area between the two countries and, he underlined, “essentially annuls the illegal Turkish-Libyan memorandum”.
– NGO Kivotos tou Kosmou: “In this issue, which shocked Greek society, we immediately replaced the board of directors at the children’s organization, implementing a regulation we introduced in April 2022” on a temporary change in social welfare organizations, a regulation “that had been rejected by many sides.”
– “Lastly, something that affected me more than anything else this week,” he noted, was violence against women. Friday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and “a great opportunity to present and evaluate our policy and works on this sensitive and significant sector,” Mitsotakis said. The premier reviewed several measures already announced this past week, from the Panic Button app to inform police of violence to centers set up in police stations for domestic violence and training of police officers staffing them, free legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, and an evaluation tool to assess the threat of violence earlier.
Wrapping up, PM Mitsotakis expressed appreciation in his post on Facebook “to every one of you who read through this long document.” He added, “I know that a lot of these I wrote are not related to you (….), but I hope they are of interest to you. And I hope you know that our daily concern is to take another step, whether small or large, toward a stronger, more modern Greece with justice for all.”