Big tax cuts for Greeks after government wins vote of confidence

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece's new centre-right prime minister, earns parliamentary backing for plan to end austerity.

    Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is applauded by his lawmakers and ministers after presenting his government's main policies during a parliamentary session [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]
    Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is applauded by his lawmakers and ministers after presenting his government's main policies during a parliamentary session [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]

    The new centre-right government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis won a vote of confidence in Greece's national Parliament late on Monday and announced a series of earlier-than-expected tax cuts.

    Mitsotakis' New Democracy party defeated left-wing premier Alexis Tsipras in general elections earlier this month on a promise to end austerity and ease the government's purse strings.

    Mitsotakis garnered 158 of 300 seats to give him a comfortable majority, with all his MPs backing his tax programme after three days of debate.

    "We need to give a message of optimism that something is finally changing in this country," Mitsotakis said before the vote.

    "The central challenge for Greece is to produce more wealth and to distribute it in a just manner," he added.

    On the campaign trail, Mitsotakis promised to cut a hated property tax 30 percent by 2020. He told MPs that a first reduction of around 22 percent would be voted on in the coming week and would take effect after next month.

    From September onward, the corporate tax rate will also be cut, from 28 percent to 24 percent, he said.

    Mitsotakis also announced the recruitment of some 1,500 police officers to boost security in urban centres, while about 2,000 personnel, mostly nurses, will be hired by hospitals.

    Massively indebted Greece had to be bailed out three times by the International Monetary Fund and European Union during the financial crisis, and Brussels is keeping a sharp eye on the public deficit and the spending promises of the new government.

    Mitsotakis told parliament that after reining in its budget somewhat this year, Greece should be able to negotiate more realistic budgets - and deficits - from 2020 onward. He said these will be financed by increased growth, but "not by sacrificing the middle class".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies