The debate on the 2023 state budget opened in the Greek Parliament plenary on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras, and all other party leaders.
The debate will run to five days, with parties voting on it on Saturday (Dec. 17), after the final speeches of all party leaders including the prime minister. The roll-call vote on the state budget is traditionally seen as a vote of confidence to the government.
The session on Tuesday began with the presentation of the 2023 budget by ruling New Democracy MP Lazaros Tsavdaridis.
ND rapporteur Tsavdaridis
The Greek economy under New Democracy (ND) rule has shown “great resilience and contains a strong dynamic,” the ruling party’s rapporteur Lazaros Tsavdaridis said during the opening of the debate on the 2023 state budget in Parliament’s plenary on Tuesday.
In the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and party leaders, MP Tsavdaridis reviewed the achievements of the government in the economy, including its growth rate and hope for achieving investment-grade status.
The economy, he said, “was upgraded 11 times in the last three years, with 4 of these during the energy crisis,” bringing the economy one step below investment grade, which he called “a national goal of vital importance” for its future prospects. In addition, he noted that the economy in 2023 will return to primary surpluses for the general government (0.7% of the GDP, from a primary deficit of 1.6% this year), while foreign investments have so far exceeded 5 billion euros.
The ND deputy also criticized the main opposition party for “obsessive faith in nihilistic criticism,” “repetition of tragic mistakes of the past,” and of being “immobilized and stuck in delusions and political irresponsibility.” In contrast to SYRIZA, he added, the government of ND does not link the goal of primary surpluses with the bleeding the middle class and going after healthy businesses, or filling state coffers with bloated taxes and an explosive rise of insurance contributions.
SYRIZA rapporteur Achtsioglou
The 2023 budget proposal in the Greek Parliament “puts a stamp on a policy of injustices and political impasses, and proscribes the downturn of the economy,” SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance rapporteur Efi Achtsioglou said on Tuesday evening, in the first of five days of debate.
The main opposition MP said that her party would vote it down.
“Normally, following the revealed scandal of phonetapping, this government should have already resigned,” Achtsioglou said, and criticizing the prime minister for not responding to whether he knew that the Armed Forces chief of staff and the labor minister were being wiretapped.
Greek society is facing a deep crisis in democracy as well as in the economy, she noted, citing Eurostat data. She also criticized the government for price hikes in energy, compared to other EU countries: “Greece is first in the price of gas, first in the wholesale price of electricity, and for electric power in the first half of 2022, Greeks were paying energy companies the most in Europe.” In addition, she charged, “Greece is the third most expensive country in terms of purchasing power in Europe, and among the first in energy inflation.”
Achtsioglou accused the government of a policy “of legitimizing profiteering by big business groups and leading society to poverty.” The government’s political imprint is “to rule with contempt for citizens and their needs, and for democratic institutions,” but such a government will not last and Greek citizens will annul this budget in the coming elections, she said.