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PM Tsipras presents four-year plan: Time for Greeks to live better

Featured PM Tsipras presents four-year plan: Time for Greeks to live better

It’s the first time in a decade that a Greek government has the luxury of discussing its own plan for the next four years, a program to be approved by the Greek people instead of by the troika of Greece’s lenders, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Monday evening.

Presenting the SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance plan, Tsipras said that this is only due to the fact the government brought the country out of its loan memoranda, when “ many insistently believed we will not make it.” But the Greek people believed in the government, he added.

"Greece is no longer a bankrupt country," he said, adding that "we now have the opportunity to present to you our plan for the future Greece, not just for the few and elite," but for all Greeks.
Tsipras said he understands the anger and fatigue and disappointment of voters, and called on them to remember where Greece was four years ago. "Now Greece has an open path ahead, again," he said, and "we can provide breathers to those who shouldered the burden during tough times."

Only the Greek people can decide whether Greece will continue moving ahear or return to the difficult and dramatic years, he noted, to a time when it was unable to pay wages and pensions and could be blackmailed by creditors and SYRIZA came to power. "We will either hold Greece in our hands or give it back to those who bankrupted it - this is a life decision," he added.

Tsipras criticised the main opposition saying that their program is not any different today. "What did they change in their program, and why did they never succeed and will do so now? Why didn't they introduce development and tax relief (when they were in power) and they can do so now?"

Among more specific plans, Tsipras reiterated his party's commitment to create half a million (500,000) new quality jobs for the next four years, and to ensure that no worker misses out even on an hour of pay. He committed to an increase of the lowest wage by 7.5 pct in 2020 and another 7.5 pct in 2021, and to hire 10,000 people on permanent contracts in health and another 15,000 in education, increasing for either sector expenditures at 6 pct and 5 pct of GDP, respectively.

He also said that SYRIZA is determined to modernise the state and public administration by digitising all services in the public sector, and to introduce new and bold changes in society such as civil marriage for homosexual couples.

Issuing a call to young voters especially, Tsipras said that they should "claim and demand" a better Greece."Greeks lived eight full years with the stress of how to make ends meet every week, how to fulfill their obligations to the end of the month. Now is the time for every Greek woman and every Greek man to live better," Tsipras said, "and to feel in his daily life that all their sacrifices were worth it."

"We call on the Greek people to trust us because it knows that only we can change Greece - we who kept it alive, we are the ones to change it," the prime minister said, including in those changes the state, the politicial system, the constitution and the production model of the country.

Before Tsipras took to the podium, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos introduced the event and said that Greece's dilemma before the July 7 general elections is clear.
"Either we take a decisive step ahead, or we turn back into the hands of those who led the country to bankruptcy," Tzanakopoulos said at the Athens Concert Hall in Athens.
Tzanakopoulos said that Greece exited the loan memoranda "because of the Greek people's efforts" and noted that "the future of the country is mostly dependent now on the will of the people."
The government spokesman said that the plan of SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance "for a new era of Greece" is based on five central pillars, "on which we are building the day after for society and the economy."
The five pillars are as follows:
- Development for all and management of climate change
- New and quality jobs with higher wages
- Fairer taxation
- Democratic and effective state
- Solidarity and security for society

The presentation of the program began with "Development for all and management of climate change" introduced by Interior Minister Alexis Charitsis. Each of the other pillars of the plan will be presented respectively by Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Administrative Reconstruction Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou and former Deputy Labor Minister and Athens mayoral candidate Nassos Iliopoulos.
Speaking about development for all, Charitsis said that the goal is to double foreign investments by 2025 and boost exports to 50 pct of GDP. He also spoke of 15 billion euros in funding for young scientists, entrepreneurs and innovation, and of a new framework the Public Investments Program.
On climate change, Charitsis said cited the EU goals of having 32 pct of energy come from renewable sources and saving 32.5 pct on energy up to 2030.

Achtsioglou noted that the two basic aspects of the four-year plan in terms of labor were creating 500,000 new quality jobs by the end of the next four years, and increasing the lowest wage twice: by 7.5 pct in 2020 and another 7.5 pct in 2021.

Tsakalotos presented nine basic aspects for a fairer taxation, as follows:
- Reduction on prepaid tax by 50 pct
- Gradual reduction of the first tax scale rate to 20 pct
- Abolition of solidarity fee for annual wages up to 20,000 and a reduction in scales for higher incomes
- Reduction by 30 pct in property tax for the medium term and by 50 pct for low and medium assets
- Reduction of income tax for permanent island residents (with up to 3,100 residents in total) and reduction of heating oil prices for mountain villages
- Reduction of VAT rate of 13 pct to 11 pct
- Reducion of tax for farmers belonging to cooperatives
- Increase of writeoff rate to 150 pct
- Fighting tax evasion through a continuing cross-checking of income tax returns and bank deposits

The improvement of relations between Church and State, civil marriages for homosexual couples and the full digitisation of the public sector were issues mentioned by Xenogiannakopoulou, who also spoke of enforcing the rights of citizens in administrative procedures and upgrading labor relations for civil servants, including introducing collective labor agreememts. She also criticised main opposition New Democracy for targeting the public sector for layoffs and criticised plans to hand over aspects of the civil service to private vendors, leading to further layoffs.