Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was forced to withdraw the 25-euro hospitalization fee bowing to the strong pressure of his coalition partner PASOK. The decision was taken on Tuesday afternoon, after a meeting between the PM and deputy PM, Samaras and Venizelos.
The controversial hospitalization fee was to bring 40 million euro in state revenues -as demanded by Greece’s lenders, the Troika, – and despite the fact that the health minister was claiming among others, that the money would cover health care expenses for the uninsured patients.
However, even with the withdrawal of the fee, the Finance Ministry and the Troika will see that there are no revenue losses.
As ‘equivalent measure‘ the state adds a new tax: 0.05 euro per cigarette and tobacco package. Greek media report that this will bring more than the needed 40 million euro.
Of course, in Greece of loan agreements, a revenue-bringing measure is being also replaced with a new revenue-bringing measure, preferably in the form of a new tax.
It is the 8th tax imposed on cigarettes and tobacco products since the beginning of the crisis. No wonder that cigarettes and tobacco products smuggling is flourishing.
Nevertheless, political analysts see in the fee withdrawal a ‘late Christmas present’ offered by Samaras to Venizelos and PASOK that see its rate dramatically sinking in public opinion polls, while municipality and EU elections are just 5 months away.
Many wonder why this solution was not found earlier. And we had to be exposed to the illogical logic and the notorious TV screams of the health minister.
PS The cigarettes I smoke cost 2,50 euro in 2012. Now they cost 3,30. And soon 3,35. A smuggled package cost just 2 euro…