Today’s cabinet meeting revolved around the developments in the economy, combined with both budget and tax issue, as well as the key bills in the Ministries of Defense, Education, Labor – Insurance – Energy and Recruitment for 2020.
The prime minister praised the ministers for adhering to the timetables, as he said “with the current programming in force, around 30 bills will have been voted on by the end of the year”.
Specifically, according to reports from Maximos Mansion, in today’s Cabinet the following were discussed:
Economic Developments, Budget and Tax Bill.
The Minister of Finance, Mr. Staikouras, presented the current developments in the economy during the period preceding the previous Council of Ministers. The economic climate in Greece remains on steadily high level, supported by confidence building, stabilization of low-lending rates and the expected positive completion of the forthcoming Eurogroup’s 4th Assessment. The 2020 budget comes at a time when growth-rates are revised downwards across the euro area, while for Greece it is revised upwards: 2% for 2019 and 2.8% for 2020. All components of economic growth, that is to say, consumption, exports and especially investment, are growing significantly. This comprises the first budget that not only does it not impose additional restrictive measures, but moreover reduces burdens on households and businesses, so that the vast majority of taxpayers experience a significant reduction in the burden and an increase in disposable income.
The 2020 Budget incorporates all tax reductions, the reinforcement of investment incentives and corporate social responsibility actions provided for in the tax bill that was tabled on Tuesday in the Greek Parliament. Furthermore, in cooperation with the supervisory authorities and banks, the implementation of the Hercules project to tackle red loans is steadily getting under way.
Ministry of National Defense presents new bill.
The Minister of National Defense, Mr. N. Panagiotopoulos, presented the three main aspects that will be included in the relevant bill that will be immediately be subjected to public consultation. It includes the upgrading agreement for the F16 and Mirage 2000 aircrafts, as well as the agreement for the supply of “excess materials” for the modernization and maintenance of Navy submarines (types 209 and 214). It is underlined that approximately 80% of the € 279 million related to the upgrading of F16 aircrafts will be undertaken by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI), thus reinforcing our country’s defense industry.
The Prime Minister noted that “the first objective is to upgrade the existing material and then to supply new ones. This upgrade can also help boost the Greek defense industry”.
Minister of Labor Giannis Vroutsis unfolded the basic principles of the drafting of an insurance bill. Seven levels of contributions are established; each insured person is given the opportunity to choose the level of contributions he or she will pay, which may vary each year depending on their capacity to contribute. Special care is provided for new entrants to the labor market and for farmers, while e-Governance is strengthened, which is also part of the Single Subsidiary Insurance and Single Benefit Fund (SSISBF). The first phase of the reduction in wage contributions is set at 0.9 percentage points, to be enforced at the second half of 2020, aiming at reducing non-wage labor costs, encouraging new hires, enhancing competitiveness and overall employment.
Evaluation, Upgrading, Quality Certification in Higher Education.
The bill-to-be-tabled of the Ministry of Education provides for the establishment of a reinforced Authority with broader, substantive responsibilities, which is the National Higher Education Authority (NHEA). This Authority will replace the Hellenic Quality Assurance and Accreditation Agency (HQA). In particular, the bill provides:
Assigning new responsibilities such as university evaluation, linking it to funding and strategic planning.
Extension of existing certification powers.
Personal and functional independence for the members of the Authority, by providing further guarantees in the process of appointing its members.
It is foreseen that a certain proportion of the funding will depend on the evaluation.
Curricula are certified prior to their commencement.
It is examined whether HEIs meet the qualitative requirements for organizing first, second and third-degree programs.
Thematic and comparative evaluations of the Institutions are included in critical areas, such as access for people with disabilities, e-learning, extroversion.
An independent evaluation of the research centers of HEIs is provided.
The National Plan on Energy and Climate
The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) was presented to the cabinet with the aim of being the key tool upon which the designing of the national energy and climate policy for the next decade will be based. In particular, NECP:
(a) Sets a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40% compared to the 1990 emissions and by more than 55% compared to the 2005 emissions;
(b) Increases the integration of RES into gross final energy consumption, with a share of 35% (from 31%) and in particular more than 60% for electricity consumption; and
(c) Enhances energy efficiency improvements, so that final energy consumption in 2030 is lower than in 2017.
In line with the above, there is also the commitment to de-legitimize the power sector by 2028, leading to a radical transformation of the energy sector and contributing decisively to the achievement of central energy and climate goals. The elaboration of specific plans to support the areas where lignite plants are currently operating, with the aim of becoming examples of development, was also discussed. It is noted that the NECP incorporates 43.8 billion euros of investments in the 10-year period of 2020-2030 into a series of sectors, ranging from investments in renewable energy and power infrastructure to cross-border pipelines, networks and the circular economy.
Recruitments in 2020
The 2020 Recruitment Plan was presented by Takis Theodorikakos, who asked for the recruitment needs of all Ministries to be recorded, with specific reference being made to the sensitive fields of Healthcare and Education.
During the debate, it was highlighted that the fiscal gap created by the growth of the economy, alongside the amelioration in the budget execution, will be used for medium-term planning of permanent and not temporary recruitment, as has been the case in recent years.
Finally, the Council of Ministers preselected judicial officers for the posts of Vice-Presidents of the Council of State and Vice-President of the Court of Auditors. In particular, the first 10 are proposed in the yearbook of the Council of State and the first 6 in the yearbook of the Court of Auditors. /ibna