THESSALONIKI – Trailing by 13 points in recent polls, major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras stepped up his offensive to regain standing, ripping Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis' about energy costs and price hikes.
The economy grew a surprising 16.2 percent in the second quarter over a disastrous period a year earlier when the Coronavirus was catching fire everywhere, as Tsipras tried to take the wind out of Mitsotakis' sails a day before the Premier speaks at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF.)
“The government’s strategy of merely following coordinated practices, especially in the energy sector, but not intervening, while all along stating that the market can regulate itself, is irresponsible if not criminal,” he said, reported Kathimerini.
With energy prices jumping and Greeks facing skyrocketing electricity bills, he said that the country faces a “a wave of price adjustments that not does not just threaten citizens’ purchasing power, it also threatens small and medium-sized businesses that must follow the wave of adjustments, precisely because they have terrifying increases to deal with, on top of their debts and on top of the liquidity shortage,” the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) reported.
He said rising prices as the economy accelerates after being held down by lockdowns aimed at slowing the pandemic will hurt the vulnerable the most, the same sector hammered by austerity during his 4 1/2-year reign that ended with a defeat to Mitsotakis in July 7, 2019 snap elections.
He said it's most obvious among consumers with the “reduction of purchasing power and stagnant wages,” adding that he believes price hikes will bring a decrease in demand and boomerang.
“We are entering a vicious cycle, so I think it is time to examine how we will intervene to deal with the problems that have arisen before they become insurmountable,” he also said.
He said there are solutions to what he called “an explosive set of circumstances,” including suspending excise taxes on natural gas, agricultural diesel and heating oil, cutting the excise duty on transport diesel and petrol, and extending heating oil allowances higher income levels, particularly in northern Greece due to the colder, longer winter.
“I find it inconceivable how, given the state of the economy, the government is making announcements celebrating high growth rates,” Tsipras also noted.