Greek Cabinet backs First Bill - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 04/Nov/2009

Support for new taxes to fund handouts; end of scrappage scheme less popular
The Cabinet yesterday discussed the content of the first bill, aimed at giving low-income groups a financial boost, to be drafted since the government was elected a month ago at the same time that some discontent was being expressed within PASOK over the decision to withdraw the car scrappage scheme introduced by the previous administration.

The draft law discussed yesterday will see the 300 most profitable Greek companies, with profits of more than 5 million euros, and more than 60,000 individuals who own real estate worth more than 600,000 euros being taxed more to pay for “solidarity” handouts to some 2.5 million citizens that are either out of work or who earn low incomes.

The payments to the less well-off, which will cost about 1.6 billion euros, received the unanimous approval of the Cabinet.

Prime Minister George Papandreou noted that this was the first bill to get the Cabinet’s backing and defended his decision to accept online applications for the roles of general secretaries at ministries. The posts have yet to be filled as officials had to sift through thousands of CVs but Papandreou said that it is the first time such a shake-up of public administration has been undertaken.

The mood was less harmonious at a meeting of a PASOK parliamentary working group, where a number of MPs, led by Philippos Petsalnikos, who is also the parliamentary speaker, objected to the government’s sudden decision on Monday to abandon the cash-for-clunkers scheme that New Democracy introduced a few days before being voted out.

Petsalnikos objected to the fact that PASOK deputies had not been informed about the decision before it was announced and to the government’s decision to stick with the rise in road tax that ND had also introduced. Petsalnikos said that the measure was unfair on many Greeks who maintained old cars because they could not afford to buy new ones.

These concerns were echoed by other deputies at the meeting, which was attended also by Giorgos Papaconstantinou, minister of finance.



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