Tsipras: Rural policy program of over EUR 6 bn by 2020 – We are fighting for 13% VAT for farmers

Tsipras: Rural policy program of over EUR 6 bn by 2020 – We are fighting for 13% VAT for farmers

Athens, August 6, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

The support measures for farmers, in view of the very difficult agreement, announced from the ministry of rural development the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras. At the same time he presented the broad outlines of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. On the contentious issue of taxation, Alexis Tsipras said that the government will negotiate for a fair distribution of tax burdens with emphasis mainly on fulltime farmers and young farmers.

The conditions are difficult and we have to open roads, to create roads, even where there are no roads, the prime minister said, “because it is our duty to do our utmost to ensure conditions, first of all, of social justice, to maintain the ability of all social groups to be able to secure their income, but also income redistribution and creation of conditions through productive reconstruction development to exit the crisis. Because you can’t repay loans without development”.

The prime minister said that we the government is in the final stretch to complete an agreement with the institutions, which have become four, from three, “and we may have to seek to make them more, in the sense that in this process should eventually be included the monitoring of the European Parliament, a democratic institution accountable that monitors and is monitored”.

“Despite the difficulties we face, we hope that this agreement could put an end to uncertainty, both for the future of Greece and the future of the eurozone, and hopefully a definitive end to the uncertainty”, the PM said, noting that it would depend largely from the political processes that will take place in the near future in the eurozone and the EU as a whole.

Counterbalancing measures

“We cannot ignore that this agreement has thorns. We are forced to implement policies that are not our policies. And if we do not work hard to create a frame of counter measures to these policies, counter measures to protect the social classes that are threatened by them, then we will have negative effects”, Alexis Tsipras stressed, adding that the government will not stop negotiating throughout during and after closing the agreement, in order to achieve a timetable and framework of the measures, which will fairly distribute the tax burdens, that will favour the real and fulltime farmers, will favour the production and not alienate young farmers from the countryside. As he pointed out in particular, the planning is done in order to reduce negative effects in a sensitive sector of the active population. In this context, the rationalisation of the support of the  primary agricultural sector and the enhancement of agricultural production are priorities.

The basic philosophy of the proposal of the government is to fairly distribute the tax burden, with particular concern to young farmers and good practices and innovations applied, so that the new generation gets involved in a creative and effective way, with agricultural production.

The fulltime farmers

Tsipras said the government will try to soften the sharp angles of this agreement in a constant negotiation with a view to promote the separation of young farmers to those who are fulltime farmers and exercise agricultural activity and to those who have a farm income, but their main job is different.

The aim is to assert, he clarified, as regards taxation to be considered as fulltime farmers those who exercise farming as a main occupation that earns them at least 50% of their total net income from all sources. And for them to reclaim tax at 13% rather than 26% and advance tax to 50% and not 100%.

Particularly for young farmers, the government will claim 30% tax reduction and 30% reduction of advance tax for the next 3-5 years.

“We believe this is a fair claim”, said the prime minister alluding to the negotiations. He also said that the government will try to achieve the tax the net farm income to be taxed after taking into account the costs and burdens.

Apart from the negotiations, the prime minister announced that there will be a series of interventions that include:

– The establishment of new collective administrations and collaborative organisation bodies (cooperatives). In the following days will be tabled the relevant draft law.

– The immediate payment of the EUR 2.4 bn subsidies annually, by activating public officials, reorganisation of procedures and eliminating bureaucracy. At this point he announced that a bill will be tabled very soon for the management of pastures.

– The dismantling of incumbent oligopolistic market.

– The intensification of controls for tax evasion, greek citizenship, criminal networks

– The strengthening of fishery through EPAL.

But the prime minister also presented the broad outlines of the new Rural Development Programme (RDP), which has already been submitted to the EU. He said the program is expected to mobilize total resources of over EUR 6 bn and create more than 50,000 job.

Its axes are:

– Enhancement of competitiveness and productivity of the primary sector with emphasis on animal husbandry.

– Upgrading of human resources, boosting of entrepreneurship, incentives for young people.

– Increasing the added value by investing in quality and openness.

– Environmental protection and treatment of the phenomena of climate change (30% of the resources of the RDP)

– Strengthening the social structure in rural areas.

The Prime Minister announced that resources and responsibilities will be transferred to the prefects for the RDP and as such more than 30% of the programme’s resources will be asigned to the prefects.

All this requires design, organization, monitoring, skills, and more importantly strong political will to clash with vested interests and attitudes. We will try for everything else, but our political will is our competitive advantage, Tsipras stressed and called for the cooperation of the Greek farmers. “Now is the time of sowing, the time for the harvest will come”, Tsipras said.

The working meeting in the ministry of rural development was attended by the political leadership of the ministry of productive reconstruction: the minister of reconstruction production Panos Skourletis, the deputy minister for rural development Vangelis Apostolou, the deputy minister Panagiotis Sgouridis, as well as both general secretaries Dimitris Gelalis and Charalambos Kasimis.

The purpose of the meeting was the implementation of agricultural policy, the strategic development of the productive reconstruction of the rural economy, the immediate problems of the rural sector and the necessary measures to support the rural sector in the immediate future.

Opposition attacks Tsipras for his statements in the ministry of rural development.

“We welcome the prime minister Mr Alexis Tsipras, who today proclaimed himself a fervent preacher of the agricultural policy of the New Democracy”, said satirically the head of the division of rural development for the main opposition party, Fotini Arabatzis and invited Tsipras “to ask a sincere apology from our rural world” for the “upcoming tax storm”.

“After the conscious political deception of our rural world, with the ‘infamous’ now programme of Thessaloniki, which was promising to abolish the obligation for bookkeeping for farmers and the establishment of a tax-free limit at 12,000 euro, today he was forced to admit explicitly that he will try to negotiate an advance payment of their tax at 50% rather than 100% and a tax rate of 13%, and not 26% or 29% for fulltime farmers”, Arabatzis stresses.

“The promises of the prime minister for the protection of farmers are reminiscent of election promises and are actually a ‘communication trick to alleviate the pressure from the painful effects of the failed negotiations and the measures that are coming”, says The River.

“For six months now the government did nothing for young farmers (…) So now comes the prime minister to submit another set of ideas without timing, priorities, goals and measurable results. If we were prone to gloating, we would refer to the prime minister’s copying of some of the proposals tabled by The River on July 31. But he seems to ignore the fact that the agricultural policy is not only formed with proclamations but with a plan, timed and quantified, and with continuous work”, concludes the statement of The River.

“It is a huge lie and deception that the agreement of the 3rd memorandum would reduce burdens on farmers”, says on its part the Greek Communist Party (KKE), adding that “Mr. Tsipras is trying to reassure the farming world, especially since the government-EU policy, with weapon the tax robbery and the wild unpopular EU CAP, are wiping out farmers”.

The KKE believes that the prime minister “gave fake and inexpensive hope to hide the violent way that has been launched by the EU and the SYRIZA government for the concentration of land and production to a few hands”.

“He no longer convinces farmers, breeders and fishermen, who are already paying the wrong choices, the shortcomings and the government’s amateurism”, notes with a statement the spokesman of PASOK, Pavlos Christidis.

“The failure of negotiations and the unbearable taxes to farmers, breeders and fishermen indelibly bear their signature”, Christidis stresses, noting that “the reduction of farmers’ incomes will have adverse effects on local commerce, small and medium engineering companies and all the network of professionals that support the primary sector”. “The path chosen by the government is without a plan”, concludes PASOK.