According to government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, the SYRIZA administration plans to increase the Greek minimum wage as part of a series of measures discussed during the party’s first 2019 secretariat meeting.

The increase will aim to boost the income of Greek citizens, Tzanakopoulos told Greek news agency ANA.

“This government has managed to take the country out of the memoranda and stabilise the economy while providing social support,” he said, adding that the current parliamentary configuration guarantees that “the SYRIZA-led coalition will complete the four-year term”.

“The government has been facing significant political and institutional challenges post-bailout but is planning to implement further positive measures aimed at relieving and supporting Greek society.”

Tzanakopoulos also commented on the ‘tremendous financial damage to the Greek state” caused by the Novartis scandal, stressing that “political responsibility lies with the ministers in charge during that period”.

“The question is now to investigate whether the actions leading to the damaging result were also illegal,” he said condemning the practices of the “old political system” for “mobilising every possible means and inventing the most outrageous arguments” in order to protect the system from total collapse.

New Economy Development Fund

On another positive note, Greek Economy and Development Minister Yiannis Dragasakis signed the ministerial decision to fund the New Economy Development Fund (TANEO) with 700 million euros from the Public Investment Programme.

TANEO will use these funds to participate in newly set-up business funds investing in Greek research and development:

  • companies in the technology sector will see 50 million euros allocated
  • investment groups focusing on the production or promotion of ‘Made in Greece’ brand products will have access to another 50 million euros
  • investment groups focusing on supporting enterprises needing restructuring/reorganisation in the manufacturing sector have been allocated 150 million euros
  • newly set-up business funds investing in medium- and small-enterprises (Debt Fund) will see funding up to 450 million euros

Debt settlement mechanism

Meanwhile, in March is expected the launch of a new mechanism for the out-of-court settlement of debts by individuals, towards which the government has set aside 50 million euros.

This applies to taxpayers whether they enjoy the provisions of the Katseli protection law named after former economy minister Louka Katseli, as well as to those who are struggling to pay off their debts but have not applied for protection. The initiative will be offering a rapid settlement of debts, including a possible state subsidy of instalments.

It also aims to clear the years worth backlog of applications for the Katseli protection law, thanks to a special platform that is currently under preparation.

The government’s aim in launching the new platform, which will be run by the same secretariat, is to give taxpayers the option of arranging their arrears through standardised solutions that may also include a partial cut of their debts. The main difference with the original out-of-court settlement mechanism is that there will be no conditions for inclusion in the mechanism, as is the case with companies and self-employed professionals.

The criteria are strictly based on income and real estate properties, the same that courts use to determine the course of a debt settlement.