The 16 changes, the redistribution of funds, the commitments for the promotion of new policies but also the increase of the available funds over € 90 million, for the financing of business and employee support projects, seem to lead to the vote of the state budget on the 18th of the month from the Plenary Session of the Parliament.
Yesterday, the Council of Ministers approved the new budget, which incorporated the suggestions of the parties and especially those of EDEK and the Citizens' Alliance. Earlier, a meeting of party leaders was held under the President of the Republic, during which they were briefed by the Ministers of Finance and Labor on the revised budget. There is optimism in the government camp that the changes that have been made will ensure the required majority in Parliament. So far, the government seems to have secured 27 positive votes, from DISY, Solidarity, the Cooperation of Democratic Forces, ELAM, while the Alliance will also be in favor, which considers that the budget has become more social.
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However, EDEK has not yet made its final decisions, as it awaits the government's response to the request for the creation of a special court, to which the borrowers will apply for abusive bank clauses. He also called for the sale to be suspended until the cases are heard in court. Yesterday, at the meeting of the leaders, President Anastasiadis stated that a special court cannot be created, adding that there can be settlements with the Supreme Court and the district courts. In addition to this request, both draft laws of EDEK MPs Kostis Efstathiou and Elias Myrianthous for the sales are pending, the approval of which they set as a condition to give their positive vote on the budget. Even if the EDEK deputies abstain from the budget, it is a given that it will be approved. 26 MPs from AKEL, DIKO and the Ecologists, as well as Anna Theologou, are expected to vote negatively again.
Yesterday, the President of the Republic called on the parties to approve the budget, so that the state does not collapse. At the same time, he referred to the difficulties arising from the pandemic, pointing out that a similar crisis existed in 1963, which was resolved by the “law of necessity”. The government, he said, does not want to get to this point. For his part, Finance Minister Konstantinos Petridis said the budget should be approved before being evaluated by Moody's on January 22nd. As he said, the country is one step from the investment stage, warning that in case of downgrade there will be huge problems.
The new budget incorporates both the parties' amendments to the voted budget, as well as suggestions made by the parties during their consultations with the government. Mainly funds were redistributed. Some funds (travel-seminars), which due to the pandemic will not be used, were reduced and funds for social projects were increased.
– Increase by € 90 million of funds for employee and business support programs.
– Increase of € 4.5 million in appropriations for the allowance for mountainous residents (EDEK and Alliance), as well as expansion to another 134 communities, which were currently excluded from the housing plan.
– Increase the sponsorship granted to young couples for the construction of a house under the mountain revitalization plan. The increase will range from € 10 thousand to € 40 thousand.
– Support for the Health sector – the budget amounts to 10% of the budget. Additional projects of € 78.5 million are foreseen for the hematology clinic, reinforcement of Makareio hospital and creation of a communicable diseases unit in Limassol. The costs will be covered by the Recovery Fund.
– Installation of photovoltaics in homes through the subsidy of residents in mountainous and semi-mountainous areas, as well as in low-income families.
– Promotions of National Guard executives.
No penalty for pensions
At the same time, within the year the government will submit a bill to the Parliament for the institutionalization of the minimum pension, as well as for the retirement in the 63rd year of those who work in heavy and unhealthy occupations, without the imposition of the 12% pension penalty. Assurances were given for the application of the minimum wage in all occupations when unemployment falls to 5%. In addition, plans will be implemented for working parents who have infants and young children. Depending on the family income, the state will subsidize part of the tuition fees, care centers will be set up, and a study will be conducted to provide incentives to deal with the low birth rate. An increase in maternity leave for the third child will be considered.
In addition, the government is preparing a support plan for 480 borrowers who had applied for the Home plan but were deemed unsustainable. At the same time, it will submit bills to combat tax evasion, such as criminalizing non-payment of tax due.
On January 18, the Parliament decides extraordinarily
On January 18, the revised state budget will be discussed in the Parliament, which occupied yesterday the meeting of the Council of Leaders at the Presidential Palace, under the President of the Republic and in the presence of the Speaker of the Parliament and the Ministers of Finance and Labor.
According to Deputy Government Spokesman Panagiotis Sentonas, with the suggestion of Adamos Adamos and with the unanimity of all political forces, the discussion on the budget will take place at a meeting of the Parliament that will be held on January 18. The budget was approved at yesterday's cabinet meeting and will be formally submitted to Parliament next Thursday, although it is very likely that the new bill will be distributed to MPs earlier to begin its elaboration.
During yesterday's meeting, the President of the Republic informed the leaders of the parties about the incorporation of proposals of the political forces in the budget. These proposals, he said, were submitted in the context of the dialogue that the President of the Republic and ministers had with the parties in the past, in order to reach the widest possible consensus and to make it possible for the Parliament to approve the budget as soon as possible.
The finance and labor ministers briefed political leaders on the individual budget changes and additional appropriations included in the new bill to meet the needs arising from the new restrictive measures and the implementation of new business and employee support plans.