Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told parliament today that there is enough fiscal space to cancel the pension cuts and the lowering of the tax-free threshold that the government has already passed into law.
Despite the mixed signals from creditors, which Tsakalotos recognised, he said that, “We have the fiscal space not to cut pensions [as of 1 January, 2019] and not lower the tax-free threshold [as of 1 January 2020].
Tsakalotos also lashed out at New Democracy. “You said that there will be pension cuts in the tax-free ceiling. Now that it is apparent that there are counter-measures [to offset austerity policies], you are in a panic and say things that cannot be said,” the minister said.
He was replying to ND’s criticism of his statement – a reiteration of a remark by PM Alexis Tsipras – that the life expectancy of older pensioners, who will die between 2020-2040, is one factor that makes pension cuts unnecessary and that will make the insurance system viable in the long run. The main opposition party intimated that Tsakalotos was waiting for old pensioners to die.
Tsakalotos also denied that the government had transferred title to archaeological sites, monuments and museums to the Public Properties Company.
“If there is some ambivalence, we will review it. This was a first list [of properties]. Obviously, title to hospitals, squares, playgrounds, and archaeological sites cannot be transferred,” he said, charging that critics are trying to create a sensation with falsehoods.
In a vitriolic barb against the centre-left Movement for Change party, Tsakalotos said that, “I am trying to find a thread that might link you to European Social Democracy, and I cannot find one.