Hundreds of property owners stood long lines outside banks on Tuesday morning in order to pay the new unified property tax ENFIA. The deadline for the first installment expires today. The majority of Greeks eager to meet their tax obligations are seniors who received their pension a day earlier. At the end of October many of them will find out that the additional property tax payment will have deprived them of basic goods or their medication. Most possible, the majority of them will not be able to heat their home for another winter as the ENFIA installments will end in February.
The mathematics formula of “income – expenditure” is simple: every additional euro the state steals from their pockets is missing somewhere else in the already tight monthly budget.
It is not only the pensioners who have been drained by the austerity measures and the overtaxation. 1.3 million unemployed are struggling to survive in an environment of a collapsed welfare state, where the allowance is just €360 maximum for only twelve months. The alternative is temporary part-time jobs for a salary of €200-€300.
I know dozens of people who have been living for months on charity food packages. These people are drowned in pasta and rice and sugar and condensed milk canned tomatoes. They consider cheese a “luxury”, vegetables and fruits a “rarity”, while they believe that meat, poultry and eggs are bred in the moon. OK, there is the alternative of soup kitchen meals. But many still wear around the last shred of their ragged dignity. Food is not the only problem a household has to cover in basic needs. It is the toiletries and detergents, the rent and utility bills that have to be paid.
Greeks hit the economic bottom and there is no sign for recovery. The country’s lenders start a series of meetings with the government and will demand additional austerity measures. According to Greek press, these will be among others further cuts in pensions and poverty allowance, mass lay-offs. In conformity with the IMF-guidelines there is no measure for growth and development in sight. Of course. It is just “cuts” and “cuts” and “austerity measures” that the Greek government translates and implements in the form of taxation.
Four years with two loan agreements and 1000+1 austerity measures have literally destroyed the private economy – preferably the small and middle enterprises – and pushed millions of people into bitter poverty. According to a recently published official report more than 60% of Greece’s population lives already below the poverty line or at risk of poverty. More than 60% that is 6.3 million people in a country of a 10-million population. People are sinking in debts just for the sake of survival and they will never be able to pay back. Waste parts of the middle classes have officially declared “bankruptcy”.
Gov’t in Decline & Fall
People’s disapproval of the situation and the end of the patience is been mirrored in the public opinion polls. Main opposition party, left-wing SYRIZA is constantly winning towards Nea Dimokratia of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. His coalition government partner PASOK is struggling around a thin 4% – a total collapse for the party that won 44% in the elections of 2009, six months before PASOK delivered unconditionally Greece to IMF and the fellow lenders.
Week by week since last spring the coalition government partners follow the public opinion polls with shock and awe. Their decline and fall is irreversible, and the gap between SYRIZA and ND is slowy and gradually growing.
It is not that the polls respondents and future voters are convinced from the economic program of SYRIZA. It is just that they cannot take anymore austerity measures. Whether from the left, the center or even the right wing, people need a change, a chance to take a breath from the ongoing economic torture.
Scenarios in the media speak of early elections even by end of upcoming November the earliest and end of January the latest, when then government will not be able to find 180 votes for the elections of the next President of the Republic.
Measures for pleasures
In a last effort to gain the sympathy of his lost voters back PM Samaras decided to ignore the Troika’s demands and ordered the Finance Ministry to work out a package of 9 tax relief measures: 30% reduction in the heating oil tax, 30% reduction in solidarity tax, 15% reduction in the vehicles ‘deemed criteria”, 120 installments for debts to tax office and social insurance funds and some other “peanuts” measures that will bring the beneficiaries’ pockets €32 euro or €90 per year.
However, most of these measures benefit those who already have an annual income of more than 12,000 euro. There is not a single relief measure for the real poor, for those in need.
PS Apparently Samaras believes that those in poverty are not only deprived of a descent life but also of their voting right.