The coalition government submitted a draft legislation to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Greece. The measures will benefit impoverished households unable to access to three basic goods: electricity, housing and food.
The draft contains measures among others for free electricity, rent- and food allowances. But also free access to health and public transportation means.
a) Free electricity for up to 300 KhW per month per household until the end of 2015. The measure refers to some 300,000 households and especially those already in the ‘social price policies program’ of PPC.
Fee-free reconnection of power to primary residence due to outstanding debts to the Public Power Company.
b) Rent-allowance of €70 – €220 per month for up to 30,000 households. The allowance will not be considered as ‘taxable income’ and will not be seized by the state for outstanding debts. However the allowance could be used to cover debt repayments to tax authorities and social insurance funds.
c) Food allowance for the supply of basic food and other items for 300,000 people. The allowance will be distributed through food stamps or some electronic means (‘smart card’ to be charged on weekly basis.)
The allowance-amount will vary depending on the number of the family members. The food and other basic good supplies will be provided by businesses and companies willing to participate in the program.
The government seeks to establish the food program in cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Church and the local municipalities.
Priority will be given to families with under-aged children, jobless and long-term unemployed, tenants under risk to be evicted and families who do not have access to these three basic goods: electricity, housing, food.
The criteria for the beneficiaries to participate in the program will be based on tax declarations and sources of income.
Main criteria is the “poverty line” which is considered “annual income of up to €5.023 per single household and up to €10,547 for a four-member family.”
Food and basic goods are considered to be among the most expensive in the euro zone, and the welfare state has almost collapse. Heating oil became unaffordable for large segments of the society due to extra taxes imposed in favor of revenue increases. Several cuts have taken place in the health sector and exorbitant increases have occurred in prescription medicine participation for the patients.
Unemployment allowance of €360 per month runs for only 12 months maximum, independently from the work years of the jobless. There is no allowances for rent.
Estimated total cost of the program is €200,300,000:
electricity: 22,100,000 euro
housing: 45,000, 000
food & basic goods: 137,700,000
According 2013-data of Greek Statistics Authority ELSTAT, 35.7% of Greeks live at risk of poverty and social isolation.
Unemployment has been above 26% in 2014.
The draft was submitted by alternate Finance Minister Dimitrios Mardas and Alternate Minister of Social Solidarity Theano Fotiou. A debate at the Parliament has to follow before the draft legislation is being approved by voting.
The government has repeatedly reiterated that the humanitarian crisis legislation can not be object of negotiations, not even with the country’s official creditors. It is part of SYRIZA’s pre-election promises.
Below some data form the Greek austerity program: