Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis charged the government with «taking money out of one pocket and placing it in the other» during a debate in Parliament on Monday on the so-called social dividend, the handouts to low-income households, adding that his party would still vote for it.

In his address, Mitsotakis said that all measures the coalition government introduced in Greece were worth 14,5 billion euros, and yet it considers it a success that it returned 650 million euros last year and is returning 720 million euros this year.

Specifically, the ND leader charged Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with lying, saying that the 1.4 billion euros he is distributing to low-income households actually consists of 720 million euros, which was mistakenly collected in the past. The explanation that the larger-than-expected primary budget surplus comes from growth and development is false, as is attributing the surplus to the reduction of unemployment, when the positions are temporary, Mitsotakis said. Neither did the surplus come from managing tax evasion, he added, as forecasts called for 3 billion euros in returns but they were actually only 100 million euros.

«Three years now the income of all Greeks, especially the poorest, is shrinking and indirect taxes – the most unjust of all taxes – are rising,» Mitsotakis said. «You cut back all bonuses for the handicapped and widow/ers’ pensions, and you created a generation with monthly wages of 350 euros,» he added.

«We had no primary budget surplus, we had excess taxation and ‘bleeding’ of everyone,» the ND leader charged.

Greek citizens need every bit of help they can get, he said, and reiterated his party’s proposal to distribute the financial aid to the long-term unemployed and to those to whom the state owes money, among others. «The mistake in politics, when you take five (euros) and hand back one, is exactly the fact you take five. You should apologize to the Greeks from whom you are taking five, and to the thousands of unemployed,» he said.

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