Draft budget 'conditional', SYRIZA stresses; Opposition parties deplore cuts in social spending
ANA-MPA -- Commenting on the draft budget for 2014 unveiled on Thursday, main opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group rapporteur for economic issues Efklidis Tsakalotos described it as "conditional" since it had not been agreed with Greece's creditors and no new Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy had yet been unveiled.
Tsakalotos expressed his conviction that the contents of the draft budget on fiscal indices will soon change, while stressing that its exclusive target appears to be that of achieving a primary surplus "no matter the cost".
Among such 'costs' he listed the sharp hike in property taxes, envisioned to jump 41 percent relative to 2013 in order to reach 4.0 billion euros. According to Tsakalotis, this represented roughly one third of income tax for all categories, which he said made a mockery of taxation in accordance with the ability to pay.
At the same time, he noted that spending was set to drop by an additional 3.0 billion euros, with the bulk of the cuts - roughly 80 percent - coming from the socially sensitive labour, health and education ministries.
"In other words, the remnants of the social state are being sacrificed on the altar of fiscal adjustment," he added, and this for a rather indifferent result, since the public debt was not reduced but "simply not increasing as fast as before" so that the country remain locked in a "debt trap".
The opposition Independent Greeks party also highlighted the social cost of the draft budget, with party Parliamentary spokesman Notis Marias calling it a "success story for the creditors and social destitution for the citizens".
"It continues to implement the well-known memorandum recipe, which even the creditors have admitted is flawed, driving the economy into a slow death," he said.
A Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announcement said the draft budget continued to loot the working classes through taxation, especially the self-employed and small businesses, while bringing further reductions in state spending on education, health and support for social insurance funds and local governments.
"Achieving a primary surplus is the result of anti-popular policy and signals state support for the benefit of capital," the announcement added.
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