Athens.- Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis pledged on Friday not to introduce any new taxes as a result of the impacts of the global financial crisis, as he denied claims of opposition parties that he was “gifting” 28 billion euros to banks that will take part in the governmentʼs bailout plan.
In a parliamentary debate on the economy that probably left voters none the wiser about the details of the package that aims to provide some Greek banks with capital to help them keep afloat during this turbulent period, Karamanlis said that the deal was not just designed to help banks.
“It aims to avert the problems that could be caused by a lack of liquidity and is designed to support borrowers, small business, investors and the public sector,” he said.
The government was forced this week to stipulate that any banks taking part in the deal would have to limit the salaries and bonuses of top executives. The move came after the conditions of the 28-billion-euro package were criticized as being too lax.
“You are persisting with the same line of attack, which means you are either ignorant or keen to spread inaccuracies or lies deliberately,” Karamanlis told PASOK as he denied the bailout was a “gift” to the banks.
PASOK leader George Papandreou appeared unconvinced. “Major shareholders in these banks should also be putting their hands in their pockets,” he said. “This draft law is a crime against the people as a whole. We are opposed to something that serves interests and your dependencies.”
The Socialists have not been the only critics of the governmentʼs plans. The head of Greeceʼs biggest buyout consortium, Marfin Investment Group, Andreas Vgenopoulos, also said this week he thought the ideas had been poorly thought through.
The prime minister went on to suggest that any profit made by the government from banks taking part in the scheme would be plowed back into public investments and a social cohesion fund that provides assistance to the unemployed and low-income workers.
The government is hoping that at a meeting of European Union finance ministers due next week, Greece will be given some leeway over its public deficit, which is above the 3 percent of GDP threshold.
Nevertheless, Karamanlis insisted yesterday that he does not plan any taxation changes. “There are not going to be any new taxes,” he said.
Communist Party of Greece’s (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Friday, speaking at an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on the financial crisis, called on the working classes as well as all low-income earners and pensioners to take “battle positions and counter-attack” the economic policy “operating against them.”
The communist leader termed the announced government’s measures for guarantee funds and anti-poverty benefits a “smoke screen”, stressing that small businesses will not benefit from the 28 billion euros allocated as liquidity guarantees to combat the credit crisis’ effects on the local money market.
Papariga criticised and condemned ruling party New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK proposals, citing pretexts in the name of the crisis “that will eventually entrap the workers and tabled her party law proposal for the protection of the lower incomes, the amelioration of indirect taxation in heating oil and popular products.
She also accused the prime minister of only describing the symptoms of the international credit crisis without explaining their origin.
“The crisis always arrives after major profits and stems from the manipulation of the working classes. This period has reached a dead end and cannot be repeated. It’s the policy that consciously suspends state interventions, allowing themarket remain uncontrolled,” Papariga said, who also criticised Papandreou.
Papariga condemned the government’s decision to privatise national carrier Olympic Airways, stressing that her party’s opposition has nothing to do whether OA is sold to Gulf State-based owner, but the fact that the company will be closed.
“Whichever measure you take is against the working class and benefits the businesses. Who will you control a market with strong monopolies? By emptying the workers’ pockets” referring to the two major parties.
The difference between the two parties is that government proposes measures to assist the bank’s profit while PASOK’s measures are hot money via the industrialists. This is an illusion. When we refer to workers protection we refer to borrowers’ protection with public housing programmes.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis on Friday criticised a government plan aimed to boost banking system liquidity, acknowledging however its “good intentions”.
Speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on the economy, Karatzaferis said the measures taken were “contradictory”, while adding that it is irrational for “a debt-ridden country like Greece to earmark 28 billion euros to rescue banks, considering that their combined profits last year reached seven billion euros, while they have already announced that the profit-making trend will continue this year as well.”
Karatzaferis maintained that only banks with problems should be supported and suggested the implementation of stricter controls on their management.