Skylakakis: There is no money tree and magic recipes and we must be prudent


“After many years, I am optimistic for the Greek economy and Greece,” said Deputy Finance Minister Theodoros Skylakakis during the budget debate. He referred to the difficulties of the pandemic and the price increases and likened Greece to a beautiful two-masted ship that changes its old engine, its economy, with reforms.


The Deputy Minister of Finance, in charge of Fiscal Policy, said that due to the pandemic, the budget preparation options are not easy as there are many uncertainties that no one should face with arrogance. He stressed that science has given us tools, vaccines and maybe in a short time we will have the pill, which may mean that 2022 will be “the end of the pandemic at least for the economy, because the virus will be for many years with us”. He clarified, however, that “we will make as many” health expenses as we need without worrying about costs “, as” after all, we have never denied these expenses “.

He rejected SYRIZA’s complaints about reduced spending on Health, saying that “we received from the SYRIZA government a reduced number of ICUs and the ICUs increased. We received a Health system where the costs incurred in previous years, especially in the public health system, were unfortunately limited. “SYRIZA had made the choice to prefer to make surpluses from over-taxation and to put the money in the pillow and not in the NSS”

He characteristically stated that the 2019 Budget prepared by the SYRIZA government as expenditures of the Ministry of Health had 3,884 million euros, while the forecast of the 2022 Budget is 4,657 million euros and if you subtract the specialized expenditures of covid 6, that is 4,522, ie million more. He even called on the official opposition not to use financial tricks with comparisons between budgets and reports. [γιατί υπάρχουν τα αποθεματικά] “To say every year that we reduce Health spending.” “If you look at the implementation of the Budget, you see that last year we increased spending by 388 million euros, while Mr. Tsipras said in 2021 that we would reduce it by 572 million euros. You fell 960 million euros “he noted and added” my question is how much will you fall out in 2022? ”

Price increases

Referring to the price increases, the Deputy Minister of Finance said “that the problem with price increases is mainly that of gas” which also affects electricity prices as in oil their price increases are close to the historical prices of this decade. The problem of accuracy, he said, “is mainly due to electricity prices, which is the most difficult we have to deal with.”

Evaluating SYRIZA’s proposals to reduce the excise tax on oil, he said that budgetally this “means that we would lose about 600 million euros in taxes on gasoline, 190 million euros on heating oil, 160 million euros on diesel and EUR 4 million from natural gas. That is, while our problem is natural gas, here they ask us to put incredible money, because 600 million euros is a lot of money to reduce gasoline “. A policy that, as he noted, “is socially unfair as according to ELSTAT data, 1.3 million have no car at all, two million have a car and one million have more than one car. “So from such a measure, the poorest would have no benefit and the real winners would be the richest who have two or three cars.” “Otherwise, this is a social policy of the ‘sensitive left’ and I am the ‘painless neoliberal’, I think we have confused things somewhere,” he commented.

The deputy minister stressed that “there is no money tree, whatever we spend this year from deficit we will pay in the future. Magic recipes do not exist to spend money, we must be prudent and that is what we try. Our debt is important. “There is trust – Mrs. Lagarde mentioned yesterday in the Greek economy and this is shown by the spreads and interest rates – but this trust exists in the institutions, in the ECB, in the markets and in our partners, because we do not say crazy things and make reforms”.

The work we do, said Mr. Skylakakis, pays off and this can be seen from two specific elements, the investments that in 2021 we have an increase of more than 10% compared to 2019 and the exports that this year reach the historical record of 35 billion euros. “The recovery is type V and with the utilization of the Recovery Fund we will have in 2022, 11 billion public investments, plus the loans from the Recovery Fund.”

Next week, the deputy minister said, we will sign contracts for the Recovery Fund with all four systemic banks. In the coming days, € 800 million and another € 600 million will therefore be channeled to make additional investments through the EIB and EBRD. We will submit the request for payment to the Recovery Fund, in the coming days, until December 28-29, he said and estimated that despite the difficulties, the country will achieve very large absorptions in the coming years. He warned that the next Budget would not be an easy one, but “we have the opportunity to meet the challenges”.

The sailing ship “Hellas”

Mr. Skylakakis likened Greece to a beautiful two-masted sailing ship, with an old engine, which was our economy: “Seven years ago, he said, the ship was taken over by the previous captain, windswept but sailing. But instead of turning it in the gust of wind, he went to lead it to the reef and shouted at the crew on deck to dance as we approached the reef. At the last minute turn, half the sails were torn (the 100 billion euros that the case cost in Greece according to the Europeans). He then cut in half the portion of food that the crew ate. The other sailboats tore the wave and our boat was limping at a speed close to zero. The crew saw and swore and changed captain. And right now we have a government that has spent two and a half years with the biggest storms one could find. There are no tougher times than this government has gone through in the last two years. Difficult times when you had to make life decisions for people. But I assure you that from a financial point of view, as soon as we find some good weather, the ship will shake with momentum and will start tearing the wind again. That is why after many years I am optimistic for the Greek economy and Greece “.

The parliamentary representative of SYRIZA, Giannis Ragousis, stated that there is a big difference between the “doctor and the Kompogiannitis”. “This ship that you said, unfortunately for you, did not start sailing in 2015, this ship in this operating condition was found in 2009, because some people who were ruling it then looted it and used its engines and sails. This ship was in the hands of the SW faction. “But I will go beyond your Kompogianni logic to compare a memorandum government with a post-memorandum one that you should have been and not with a pre-memorandum one that you are,” he said. He criticized the minister for spending less on health and added if the 600 million euros for the reduction of taxes on gasoline is a lot of money, “the 1 billion euros that are scandalously spent on the Training Center in Kalamata with a sinful contract is not enough? “Are the 5 billion euros in direct assignments within the pandemic to glue companies that were made last night more or less?”

The Deputy Minister of Finance commented that Mr. Ragousis did not answer the questions he raised, “but he tried to change the subject, in a way reminiscent of the old Soviet joke” and you are torturing the Negroes “. “Now, everyone has their own personal story, I’m proud of mine, which was quite difficult as you know. But we are in 2021 and we are talking about the future – and in the future what matters is to be prudent in the way we use money. We are not, as you said, without budgetary restrictions, because we borrow from the markets, if you think that if you borrow from the markets you are without social restrictions, you are far away laughing “, noted Mr. Skylakakis

For his part, the parliamentary representative of ND, Haris Theocharis, remarked to Mr. Ragousis that with what he said “it is logical that he has forgotten that he was a minister in the government that put us in the memoranda” and added that “what he should not forget and to hide it from the Greek people is that the Recovery Fund and fiscal freedom was not a Divine gift but was made after negotiation by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and specific actions he took in Europe. So it is not accidental but a result of hard work of the Government “  

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