For Decent Wages – For a Decent Life – For A Truly European Greece
As soon as the new elections of 17 June were announced in Greece, SYRIZA (The Coalition of the Radical Left) faced a serious problem: The need to clarify the exact measures that the party will take towards the Memorandum, in case it comes first. A letter sent by Alexis Tsipras, head of SYRIZA, to the leadership of the EU, which stated the need to review the strategic structure of the Union, was paraphrased by the media and the party’s political opponents and was presented as a rescission of SYRIZA from its position to denounce the Memorandum to the one of renegotiating it.
It was certainly clear, however, that the letter was referring to a broader issue, the need to change the logic of the EU, which of course includes the Memorandum. This tactic had some effect, since it succeeded in creating a confusion regarding the stance of SYRIZA. At the same time, a long discussion started on the economic program of SYRIZA and how realistic it is.
Cancellation of the Memorandum, for a truly European Greece
Last Friday, 1 June, in a room crowded with people of the Left and with journalists – and a very large presence of representatives of the foreign press – Alexis Tsipras announced the updated programme of SYRIZA. He began by saying that the first action that will by taken by a government of the Left is to cancel the Memorandum and its accompanying laws. Subsequently, as SYRIZA does not want Greece to exit the Eurozone and the EU, the government will make a new deal for the country’s bailout agreement and the repayment of its debt, making sure to maintain the living standards of a European country and not to become a colony of the Eurozone. The main axis of this view is that Greece’s debt is unsustainable and can not be repaid. This means that the final agreement must include the cancellation of its biggest part. The government will also claim a "development clause", i.e. that Greece should pay its debt only if positive growth rates are achieved, while the repayment should be proportional to GDP growth. SYRIZA will attempt to reach a common European solution for the (European) debt problem, because otherwise Greece will not be able to achieve fiscal adjustment, primary surplus, repayment of its debt and the financing of public investment and social policies at the same time.
The financial measures: for decent wages, for a decent life
The commitments of SYRIZA include measures to relieve the people who are suffering due to the crisis: Cancel the reduction of the minimum wage by 22% and reset it to 750 Euro per month and the unemployment benefit at 461 Euro. Suspend cuts to social expenditures, pensions and public sector wages. Extend the unemployment benefit to two years. Repeal the recent labour market reforms which allow employers to impose individual contracts when collective contracts expire. Abolish the many special taxes imposed on people of medium and low incomes. Immediately suspend reductions in social expenditures. Reduce the VAT, particularly on basic goods such as milk and bread, so as to boost consumption. Partially or totally cancel the debts of heavily indebted households and businesses. Reduce indirect taxes in the food industry and tourism. Freeze the privatization of strategic public organizations and gradually return, when economically possible, to the public control of companies that have been privatized.
Where will SYRIZA find the money to do all this?
Explaining the way to finance these measures, Alexis Tsipras mentioned: the nationalization of all banks currently being recapitalized as part of the EU-IMF bailout, the radical review of public spending, the reinforcement of the authority that controls goods and services bought by the state, the creation of records on property in order for it to be taxed and avoid tax evasion, the confiscation of property for those who declare false assets, the reorganization of tax scales according to the European average tax in order for those with higher incomes to pay more taxes, the increase of taxes for ship owners – who enjoy 58 different tax exemptions, the creation of appropriate conditions for the return of deposits in Greek banks, the development of the country’s mineral wealth, the signing of an agreement with Switzerland on the taxation of savings of Greek citizens, the increase of the absorption of the NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework). In addition to the aforementioned, Alexis Tsipras announced a series of institutional changes, such as dealing with the fact that the private TV-stations – which belong to ship owners and major contractors of public works, who have intertwining relationships with the parties of PASOK (social democrats) and New Democracy (conservatives) – operate without a permanent permission and without paying the state for the use of frequencies.
Alexis Tsipras closed by saying, "The Greek people do not ask for money like beggars. They ask for work in order to have a decent living. They ask to meet their basic needs. We guarantee that financial resources can be saved without the brutal cuts of the Memorandum".
Find here the English translation of the speech of Alexis Tsipras, Athinas Hall, Friday, 1 June: http://www.transform-network.net/en/home/article/a-road-map-for-the-new-greece.html