Minister of State Akis Skertsos in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) and journalist Nikos Papadimitriou on Sunday, gave a detailed outline of the government’s road map for 2024.
Skertsos said that the government will go forward with all the “bold but obvious changes that all the previous governments avoided carrying out.”
Major issues like higher education, health and justice, the labor market, digitalization and waste management are some of the changes the conservative government of New Democracy is planning to go forward with.
Greece, in 2023 managed to grow its economy four times the size of the rest of Europe, 2.4% economic growth, compared to 0.6% in the rest of the Eurozone Skertsos said.
Due to this growth the government is able to increase wages both in the public and private sectors as well as increase pensions.
He noted that in spite of the world wide uncertainty, for Greece this year is ending on a relatively optimistic note mostly due to its economic growth, adding that Greece had managed to remain at the European average of inflation.
He added that credit rating agencies have upgraded Greece’s economy and have restored the country’s investment grade rating, noting that this would allow more and better investments in the coming year, leading to more jobs and higher wages.
Regarding price increases in consumer goods as well as inflation, Skertsos said that the new year begins with income increases which he described as being the most effective way of combating inflation and price hikes.
“The government has increased more than 20% the minimum wage to date,” he said, adding that this is a relief from the significant and painful increases in goods and services.
He added that more than 50 permanent reductions in taxes and social security contributions have been also implemented.
“This gives an additional disposable, real income to every household, every family and every worker”, he underlined.
The country has managed to achieve a primary surplus over 1% in 2023 and the target for 2024 is to reach 2.1%.
The Minister added that, Greece as a whole since the pandemic has achieved one of the largest fiscal adjustments among all European countries with the fastest reduction of public debt internationally – although of course it still remains at high levels.
“This is an important achievement that shows that we have collected the expenses that were necessary to be made during the pandemic and also the energy crisis. The tax policy we have adopted and implemented in the last four years has reduced the tax burden on households, workers and businesses by almost 5.5 – 6 billion euros permanently”, he pointed out.
Named country of the year in 2023 by the “Economist”, Skertsos said that this was not a signal that the country had solved all its problems but one that had “defeated the monster of populism”, whose government was moderate and supported reforms and fair, inclusive growth.
The goal was convergence with Europe and improving a series of indicators where Greece has long lagged behind, including an end to the state monopoly on higher education and improving the quality of public universities.