Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took to the airwaves on Monday evening in an unscheduled television appearance in order to announce a “social dividend” of 1.4 billion euros, saying 720 million euros of the figure will be doled out to 3.4 million people in the form of a "lump sum support”.
In a bid to avert the furor created from last December’s 670-million-euro “social benefit”, which was extended to 1.2 million pensioners receiving less than 800 euros in monthly benefits but without any other income or asset criteria, Tsipras promised that this year’s "holiday bonus" will be handed out conditionally.
What the leftist-rightist coalition government calls a “social dividend” is the result of the Greek state surpassing a primary budget surplus target for 2017, mandated by its institutional creditors.
The opposition, business groups and a handful of European officials have directly pointed to excessive taxation – primarily of wage earners and pensioners – as generating the surplus cash. The leftist Greek leader, however, claimed his government’s “rationalization” of spending and clampdown on tax evasion boosted revenues.
Tsipras said the benefits handed out will be tax-free and not subject to seizure for arrears to the state.
The Greek prime minister used an example of a pensioner in the country who receives a monthly benefit of 1,100 euros, saying the former will get a rebate of 240 euros.
Although the minimum monthly wage has now dropped to around 680 euros for full-time work in the country of 11 million, Tsipras said a pensioner receiving 1,300 euros a month will see a rebate of 450 euros in his bank account.
Tsipras also said 360 million euros of taxpayers’ money will be diverted to the state-run and listed Public Power Corp. (PPC) to cover a lower rate regime that subsidizes electricity costs for vulnerable social groups.