"It is almost a month since the [start of the] illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine that drastically tranforms the geopolitical state of play, violates legality and brings blood, refugee flows and global insecurity," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis underlined while addressing the Greek parliament on Wednesday, in the context of a debate on a draft finance ministry bill.
"The conflict in Ukraine may torpedo the global growth that we all expected," he said, adding that "overcoming these challenges is a one-way road". Mitsotakis stressed that Greece has from the start aligned itself with the side of peace, of international law and the inviolability of borders, the side of Ukraine and the tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks, who are particularly afflicted by the horrors visited upon Mariupol.
"In Ukraine, democracy is contending with authoritarianism, modern Western civilisation with Eastern authoritarianism, the despotism of the past," he said, adding: "It is necessary to fend off every effort for a violent change of the borders and every model of leader who wants anti-democratic hegemony. Greece and the Greeks are with freedom," Mitsotakis said.
In his speech, the prime minister noted that the government had delivered promised tax reductions, noting that Greeks will pay 920 million euros less for the ENFIA property tax than the amount imposed in 2018 by the SYRIZA government. Mitsotakis also announced a "significant increase in the subsidy for electricity and natural gas bills from next month, which for houses will go as high as 80 pct and rise to 72 euros per MWh from 40 euros at present.
"Today's intervention is not isolated. It is combined with the reduction of almost 60 taxes and many other charges and levies, and these reductions are framed by the double guaranteed income in December and the second significant increase of the minimum wage, which will go into effect from May 1, 2022," he added.
For businesses, the support will be doubled to cover 50 pct of the increase, rising as high as 130 euros per MWh, the premier said, announcing other welfare measures targeting poorer households and pensioners. Mitsotakis also announced that energy companies will be made to pay a part of their excess profits to counteract this disruption, noting that the problem was European wide and required a European solution, such as that proposed by Greece.
"Where excessive profits are found, the companies will be called upon to contribute to address the losses sustained by citizens," he said, stressing that he will not hesitate to legislate for an emergency tax where such profits exist, though noting that they cannot be taxed before they are generated.