The House on Thursday gave the nod to the state budget for fiscal year 2023, in what was parliament’s final act of the year before going into mandatory recess ahead of the coming presidential elections.
The budget bill passed comfortably with 29 votes for, and 24 against. As expected, ruling Disy, Diko and Dipa were in favour, while Akel, Edek, Elam and the Greens voted against.
The 2023 budget provides for general government expenditures of €11.29 billion and revenues of €11.76 billion. The €460 million surplus corresponds to 1.7 per cent of GDP. For the coming year, the finance ministry projects inflation to recede to 3 per cent, with unemployment declining to 6.4 per cent, and GDP growth at 3 per cent.
Lawmakers voted on 111 amendments, of which 46 passed.
In passing the budget bill, MPs approved provisionally but ‘locked’ tens of millions allocated to housing programmes and social spending, financing for the National Solidarity Fund, as well as funds for the Estia debt relief scheme.
In order for these funds to be unlocked, the House finance committee will have to give the green light.
Additionally, the House approved cuts to expenditures relating to the privatisation of public organisations, as well as a 10 per cent reduction on spending for the purchase of advisory services for government departments.
An amendment filed by Akel and the Greens to halt any state funding of activities relating to the historical figure of Georgios Grivas, was defeated.
Speaking on the House floor, Disy leader Averof Neophytou expressed concern that some funds may not be released while parliament goes into its long recess until early March.
The presidential elections will be held in early February.
Christiana Erotokritou, an MP with the Diko party, replied that should any ‘locked’ funds be needed to be disbursed urgently, the House finance committee can convene at any time during an extraordinary session.
Commenting later, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said he was pleased the budget had passed.
“It is a budget that is not short-sighted, it sees into the future while at the same gives us the tools to handle the short-term crises we face.”
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