As the Left we have a particular vision for the state budget. This vision has three main pillars:
2. Socially sensitive
3. Well thought-out budget
As regards the pillar on growth and development, what is the state of the Cyprus economy? First, we have a banking sector which is unable to adequately finance the real economy. Second, we still have a high cost of borrowing despite the relative reduction in interest rates. Third, we have a very high private debt and fourth, the private sector, despite increasing its profits, isn’t proceeding to any significant new investments and in this sense and given this state of affairs the public sector is called upon to bear the burden for providing support for developmental practices.
Instead the Government in the 2017 Budget as well keeps public spending for development and growth reduced. Consequently, the government budget with regards this sector does not meet the demands for development. And not only that, the government’s vision in relation to the strategy for development continues to be perceived through privatizations and the selling off of public wealth and property.
The second pillar, as regards the Budget’s social sensitivity, I must say that the Government’s Budget continues to maintain spending on social welfare at low levels. Whatever development and growth has been recorded, mainly as a result of unexpected earnings and coincidental economic trends in the region, is distributed unevenly. Income inequality is increasing in Cyprus. Our country holds the leading position in the Eurozone in terms of income and social inequality. Therefore the Budget, normally, should have enhanced social cohesion, but unfortunately the government again appears to be mean and not investing in what it declares that there must be investment, that is to say, in social cohesion.
As far as the third pillar is concerned, the government appears again to be generous to the privileged few, saying that it is reducing what it considers waste of money in public spending, but here too targeted cuts are being made and I reiterate that the government is particularly generous towards various privileged groups.
Therefore and in conclusion, I will say that our own assessment is that the Budget for 2017 does not respond to the real challenges of the economy, nor does it respond to the real needs of Cypriot society. As every year, AKEL will submit proposals and amendments so that the previously mentioned goals I have referred to will be served.