Mitsotakis' campaign-style address revolves around cutting taxes, benefits for new families

Friday, 14 December 2018 23:01
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Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled a package of liberal-minded and pro-market proposals on Friday evening with an eye directly on next year's general election, in opening the center-right party's summit.

With ND leading comfortably in practically all mainstream opinion polls over the past year and a half, and with his own approval ratings now eclipsing a struggling Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, once considered the "fair-haired boy" of the European left prior to 2015, Mitsotakis' leitmotif was "less taxes, less social security contributions".  

Besides the economy and what he described as the current leftist-rightist coalition government's ineptitude and ideological inflexibility, Mitsotakis also promised that a future ND government will tackle the country's acute demographic problem.

As such, he promised a 2,000-euro benefit to young families for each child born in Greece, as well as an increase in the minimum monthly wage at a rate that is double the annual GDP increase in the country - i.e. with GDP growth estimated at 2 percent in 2018, the minimum wage would increase, as per Mitsotakis' pledge, at around 4 percent.

The bonus for newborns would be included in the first budget tabled by ND, he added, pointing to looser income criteria aimed to assist younger families the most.

More "family-friendly" proposals included giving mothers the opportunity to select the period for taking maternity and post-partum leave, a home assistance program for working mothers and even a 180-euro-a-month stipend for 10 months for each child that is not accepted into a public daycare center. The latter would give a child's parents and custodians the ability to opt for a private daycare center.

In a bid to reverse the current government's numerous tax and contributions hikes since 2016 - as part of the third memorandum - Mitsotakis clicked off a series of promises to cut taxes, such as reducing the unpopular property tax, an introductory income tax rate for newly active taxpayers at 9 percent (from the current 22 percent), a corporate tax rate of 20 percent (from the current 29 percent), a 15-percent social security contributions (from 20 percent), lower VAT rates, especially in the tourism and food & beverage sectors (11 percent), as well as an eagerly foreseen 120-payment installment plan for covering off arrears to the tax bureau and social security funds.

He also promised to gradually abolish a yearly fee (500 to 600 euros) imposed on self-employed professionals - even with zero income - and a progressive tax the leftist government dubbed a "special solidarity contribution".

"The goal of our policy is not just the country's growth, but to bridge differences, to remove divisions and reduce inequities; to work for the economic and social reconstruction of our country's middle class; the middle class established by our fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers ... within 50 years they created, from the ruins of war, a state that is today still among the 30 most prosperous in the world," he told party delegates at a conference center adjacent to the Athens International Airport during a nationally televised address, adding:

"This is the accomplishment of Greece's middle class, an accomplishment that is based on a simply and traditional value: personal and collective success; hard work; the desire for one's children to live a better life than the one we live - the values that Mr. Tsipras and his friends disparage."


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