Greece Prepares for Humanitarian Aid for Greeks*
By Luis Miranda
Tsipras must keep in mind that Greeks who sold their country’s soul to the devil will do so again and they should be included rather than excluded on the road to rebuilding Greece…
The first measures include food aid, free electricity and full access to healthcare along with the rehiring of former government employees.
The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, unveiled Sunday a program of immediate assistance to address the humanitarian crisis in Greece caused by austerity measures adopted under the previous administration. Tsipras also announced the rehiring of public employees who were dismissed unfairly under the directives imposed by the troika.
The first measures beginning on Wednesday include food aid, free electricity and full access to healthcare for those hardest hit by the crisis, Tsipras said when presenting his government program in Parliament.
He added that people who were laid off in violation of the law, such as ministerial cleaners, school guards, and university officials will have their jobs back.
“Without reforms we won’t get anywhere, not even if we have the best agreement on the debt,” he said at the beginning of a long list of plans to be launched by the Government, including the fight against cronyism and corruption.
“Within six months we will have completed the first part of these reforms, which include the cutting of privileges in ministries, we will reduce the armies of counselors, remove half the cars given to ministers and sell one of every three aircraft that now belong to the government,” he said.
Tsipras also asked Parliament to remove the privilege of cars given to deputies as a way to cut down on wasteful spending.
The government will reduce its headquarters staff by 30% and the number of escorts of the prime minister by 40%. And this is not only symbolic, it is done because it is necessary that the police are in the neighborhoods for the safety of citizens,” he said.
Tsipras announced that the secret services will change name and character and will be called the National Sovereignty Protection Service.
In the fight against tax evasion, the Prime Minister announced the immediate monitoring of large deposits that do not have tax documents.
He also announced that amnesty laws that protected workers at the Greek Central Bank will also be eliminated and that the government will do away with TAIPED, the entity in charge of privatization.
“I do not forgive anyone and anything from the past,” said Tsipras, adding that he will also initiate a parliamentary investigation to bring about accountability on the situation that Greece is suffering.
Tsipras announced a comprehensive tax reform in the medium term, whose philosophy is that every citizen and every company contributes to government revenues according to their abilities and to end the situation that allowed people with higher incomes to escape without paying taxes.
“We pledge to create a simple system that will transfer the weight of taxation on higher incomes,” he said, adding that the tax exemption base of 12,000 euros per year will be reestablished and that the controversial property tax on first homes will be removed, to be replaced by one on great estates.
Tsipras also announced the gradual restoration of the minimum wage of 751 euros per month and the payment of a thirteenth salary for pensioners whose income is inferior to 700 euros per month.
During the presentation of the program of Government in Parliament, Tsipras acknowledged that the return to the minimum wage of 751 euros cannot be applied immediately because it is necessary to “allow time to social partners” the country will achieve this gradually until 2016.
Among the policies that the government will push from now on, he said, will be the restoration of collective agreements that were destroyed in recent years.
He said that pensions below 700 euros will recover the bonus removed by the previous government. Tsipras also promised that there won’t be cuts in pensions or further increases in the retirement age.
To finance the costs of the new programmes, he said, the government will create a new pension fund which will be financed with the proceeds provided by the exploitation of natural resources.