Greek government austerity measures

Marchers demonstrating against austerity measures The measures have been unpopular across a broad section of the Greek population

The Greek parliament is preparing to vote on further austerity measures to try to meet its terms for another payment under the bail-out from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The five-year plan was changed to allow for more money to be raised through tax increases and less money to be saved through spending cuts.

The plan involves cutting 14.32bn euros ($20.50bn; £12.82bn) of public spending, while raising 14.09bn euros in taxes over five years.

These are some of the austerity measures planned.

TAXATION

  • Taxes will increase by 2.32bn euros this year, with additional taxes of 3.38bn euros in 2012, 152m euros in 2013 and 699m euros in 2014.
  • A solidarity levy of between 1% and 5% of income will be levied on households. It will be raised twice next year.
  • The tax-free threshold for income tax will be lowered from 12,000 euros to 5000 euros, rather than the original plan of 8,000 euros.
  • There will be higher property taxes.
  • VAT rates are to rise: the 19% rate will increase to 23%, 11% becomes 13%, and 5.5% will increase to 6.5%.
  • The VAT rate for restaurants and bars will rise to 23% from 13%.
  • Luxury levies will be introduced on yachts, pools and cars.
  • Some tax exemptions will be scrapped.
  • Excise taxes on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol will rise by one third.
  • Special levies on profitable firms, high-value properties and people with high incomes will be introduced.

PUBLIC SECTOR CUTS

  • The public sector wage bill will be cut steadily to shrink it by more than 2bn euros by 2015.
  • Nominal public sector wages will be cut by 20%.
  • Wages of employees of state-owned enterprises will be cut by 30% and there will be a cap on wages and bonuses.
  • The number of civil servants to be suspended on partial pay will rise to 30,000 by the end of this year, from 20,000 planned initially. They will receive 60% of pay for one year, having been promised a job for life.
  • All temporary contracts for public sector workers will be terminated.
  • Only one in 10 civil servants retiring this year will be replaced and only one in 5 in coming years.

SPENDING CUTS

  • Defence spending will be cut by 200m euros in 2012, and by 333m euros each year from 2013 to 2015.
  • Health spending will be cut by 310m euros this year and a further 1.81bn euros in 2012-2015, mainly by lowering regulated prices for drugs.
  • Public investment will be cut by 850m euros this year.
  • Subsidies for local government will be reduced.
  • Education spending will be cut by closing or merging 1,976 schools.

CUTTING BENEFITS

  • Social security will be cut by 1.09bn euros this year, 1.28bn euros in 2012, 1.03bn euros in 2013, 1.01bn euros in 2014 and 700m euros in 2015.
  • There will be more means-testing and some benefits will be cut.
  • Monthly pensions above 1,000 euros to be cut by 20%
  • Existing retirees aged under 55 to lose 40% of any pensions over 1,000 euros.
  • The government hopes to collect more social security contributions by cracking down on evasion and undeclared work.
  • The statutory retirement age will be raised to 65, 40 years of work will be needed for a full pension and benefits will be linked more closely to lifetime contributions.

PRIVATISATION

  • The government aims to raise 50bn euros from privatisations by 2015, including:
  • Selling stakes this year in the betting monopoly OPAP, the lender Hellenic Postbank, port operators Piraeus Port and Thessaloniki Port as well as Thessaloniki Water.
  • It has agreed to sell 10% of Hellenic Telecom to Deutsche Telekom for about 400m euros.
  • Next year, the government plans to sell stakes in Athens Water, refiner Hellenic Petroleum, electricity utility PPC, lender ATEbank as well as ports, airports, motorway concessions, state land and mining rights.
  • It plans further sales to raise 7bn euros in 2013, 13bn euros in 2014 and 15bn euros in 2015.

LABOUR MARKET REFORM

  • The law will make it easier for companies to cut their payroll costs. It will do this by suspending industry-wide wage bargaining.

Sources: Reuters, Greek Ministry of Finance Economic Policy Programme Newsletter

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