Efforts to persuade the three deputies of Edek to vote for 2021 budget, which was rejected by the legislature last month, resumed on Monday when Disy chief Averof Neophytou met the party’s leader Marinos Sizopoulos.
Apart from Neophytou, Sizopoulos had also met ministers for consultations and said the purpose of all these meetings was “how, within the framework of a revised budget, to support and help as much as possible our countrymen that are from the vulnerable groups of the population, those that have suffered the biggest consequences of the financial crisis of the past, as well as the most recent one caused by the pandemic.”
It is beyond belief that while we are going through a new economic crisis, Sizopoulos still wants to protect those that suffered from the crisis of 2013-14, and presents this as a perfectly reasonable objective. He even met the governor of the Central Bank to discuss the issues of bank foreclosures and NPLs so that “we can help the formulation of a final text for these proposals in a positive way for the groups of the population that face the biggest social and economic problems.”
It is quite sad that the government needs Edek’s votes for the budget and is obliged to pander to Sizopoulos’ brazen populism. The state has helped those that suffered from the financial crisis of the past as much as it could – house foreclosures have moved at a glacial pace while it had even set up the Estia scheme to subsidise house loan repayments of strategic defaulters. As regards, NPLs have the politicians not realised that people that have not repaid a loan instalment for five or 10 years are beyond saving or protecting – they should suffer the consequences of their actions rather than be offered protection by vote-seeking parties.
Neophytou, meanwhile, made it clear that he was acting as a facilitator and the final decision would be taken by the government. How far the government is prepared to go to secure Edek’s three votes is unclear, but the fact is that the 2021 budget is expansive and designed to help the economy return to the path of recovery. Additional spending is unsustainable and as Neophytou said on Monday, “support of society must not put at risk economic and fiscal stability.”
It would be tragically irresponsible if, in order to get the budget approved, the government sanctions additional expenditure that the state cannot afford.