Greek parliament passes government’s 2024 budget


The Greek parliament has approved the government’s 2024 budget, the first in 14 years with Greek debt listed at investment grade

ByDEMETRIS NELLAS Associated Press

December 17, 2023, 5:04 PM

ATHENS, Greece — The Greek parliament on Sunday evening approved the government’s 2024 budget, the first in 14 years with Greek debt listed at investment grade.

The budget passed on a 158-142 vote in the 300-member body, with only lawmakers from the governing conservative New Democracy party voting for it. In a separate vote, the defense budget was approved 249-51, an unusually wide margin.

A relatively low-key debate over the budget lasted five days.

The budget forecasts 2.9% growth in the economy for 2024, up from a projected 2.4% in 2023, which is four times faster than the Eurozone average. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he hoped the economy could grow at least 3%, based on strong investment spending, forecast to rise 15.1%.

Greece’s gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, was predicted to top 200 billion euros ($218 billion) for the first time since 2010, when Greece had to be rescued after defaulting on its debt.

Inflation was forecast to average 2.8%, slightly higher than initial estimates, mainly because of persistently high food prices. The government expects to spend about 2.5 billion euros in subsidies to prop up lower incomes hit by inflation, including high electricity prices.

Answering opposition critics who argued the economy is mostly creating low-paying precarious jobs, Mitsotakis said the minimum wage is set to rise for the fourth time in three years in April. He also said 660,000 civil servants will see real pay hikes for the first time in 14 years in January.

But Mitsotakis also conceded problems persist, including many structural weaknesses in the economy and the way the government operates that helped bring on the financial crisis in the 2010s. The answer, he said, is bolder and deeper reforms.

As is customary, the parliament recessed for the end-of-year holidays after the budget vote.

Read More

Leave a comment