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Ministers accuse Diko of playing ‘petty politics’ during a crisis

The government on said Monday that opposition Diko offered nothing of substance and raised obstacles to policies designed to support people, as it fought back criticism over the handling of the fallout from the pandemic.

In a joint statement, the finance and labour ministries said Diko’s proposals were limited to sweeping criticism that was devoid of substance while setting obstacles to substantive government policies aimed at supporting workers and businesses.

“Examples are the stance it took towards the (2021 state) budget and the state guarantees,” the ministries said in a written statement. “The government responds to populism with action.”

In December, Diko voted against the state budget, delaying its passage for a month, insisting that files relating to the citizenship by investment programme be handed to the auditor general.

It also insisted that the auditor-general be included in a committee supervising a government scheme for state-backed borrowing. The scheme was eventually withdrawn by Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides after numerous amendments demanded by the opposition made it unfeasible.

The two ministries said while Diko’s petty politics jeopardised payments to workers, businesses, the jobless, and vulnerable people, amid the worse economic crisis since the 1974 Turkish invasion, it accused the government of lacking a plan to shore up the economy.

“At a time when €100m of €200m have been disbursed as part of the lump sum support to businesses and while the 11th worker support scheme has been announced, after spending €650m so far,” they said.

To date, the government has announced emergency fiscal measures worth some €1.6bn, affording support to workers and businesses for 11 months, they added.

The government’s measures resulted in restricting lost income in 2020 to 5.1 per cent, less than the EU average. Similarly, unemployment was lower than the EU average, the ministries said.

The most recent example was the raise granted to low pensioners.

“It is not a coincidence that the poverty risk faced by individuals over 65 has been reduced from 46.3 per cent in 2008 to 24.6 per cent in 2019; the respective rate for women dropped from 18.1 per cent to 15.9 per cent.”

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