15 February, 2005
The Greek government on Monday unveiled its incomes policy for 2005 envisaging pay rises of 3.6 percent to civil servants, pension pay increases of 4.0 percent and pension pay rises of 6.0 percent to farmers.
Presenting the government incomes policy for the year, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said that all wage and pension pay increases would be offered from March.
Alogoskoufis said that the policy for the year 2005 was based on last year's inflation rate (2.9 pct). The Greek minister said that civil servants base wage would be increased by 3.6 percent, a family benefit for a third child would be raised from 35 to 47 euros (an increase of 34 percent), pension payments would be raised by 4.0 percent, while pension pay rises to farmers and the supplementary pension pay would rise by 6.0 percent.
Alogoskoufis said that low wage and pension earners would see their incomes to rise indirectly by 1.0 percent at least through a series of tax relief measures, such as raising the tax-exempt income to 11,000 euros from 10,000 euros annually.
He said that the government also decided to lower interest rates on housing loans offered by the Depository and Loans Fund to 4.9 pct from 5.2 pct, and added that the government was considering reducing stamp duties from 2.4 pct to 0.6 pct.
The Greek minister said that the incomes policy would burden this year's budget by 720 million euros adding that the government has exhausted all room offered by the state budget and the country's economic situation.
Alogoskoufis said that the government did not examine raising VAT levels on product and services.
The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) claimed on Monday that the government's incomes policy aimed to deceive the public.
"Today's announcement of incomes policy is one more example of (ruling) New Democracy's lack of credibility and the prime minister's policy of deceiving the Greek people," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said in a statement.
Athanassakis complained that the government's informal audit of state books for years previous to its assumption of office in March 2004 had led to supervision of the economy by the European Union, coupled with fiscal mismanagement in 2004.
Source: Athens News Agency