“Greece is no longer Europe’s black sheep,” says PM Mitsotakis

“Greece is no longer Europe’s black sheep,” says PM Mitsotakis 1

“Greece is no longer Europe’s black sheep,” says PM Mitsotakis 2

Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has pledged that Greece will soon prove to be a “pleasant surprise for Europe”.

With investor confidence in Greek bonds better than at any time in the past 10 years, Mitsotakis said the country long at the forefront of the euro crisis had finally turned the corner. “Greece is no longer Europe’s black sheep,” he told the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, where Greek leaders traditionally outline economic policy.

“It is a country with self-confidence now,” he added in the keynote speech on Saturday evening at the inauguration ceremony of the 84th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

“With a bold wave of reforms we will win strong credibility and with the right timing and our positive results as a weapon, we will claim more realistic annual primary budget surpluses,” Mitsotakis said, using the occasion to announce an array of corporate and individual tax cuts.

On Sunday, at a press conference following the policy address, he defended the cuts saying the pro-business government would also prioritise foreign investment to produce new wealth and boost unemployment.

At the forefront would be the redevelopment of Elliniko, the prime coastal spot that once housed Athens’s abandoned Hellinikon airport, a project that stalled under Syriza but now projected to generate as many as 30,000 jobs and seen as key to turning the economy around.

Another project is a gold mine operated in northern Greece by Canadian company TVX Gold, which had been opposed, often violently, by some locals, the previous government encouraged. Mitsotakis said he is considering granting the company another mining project in the northeastern Thrace region. This investment is worth 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

He also spoke of another investment, by pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer, calls for an international digital technology, artificial intelligence and large data analysis center in Thessaloniki.

Mitsotakis promised to reduce taxes, especially on lower incomes, cut the dividend tax to 5% from 10%, cut corporate tax to 24% next year, and eventually 20%, from 28% and other measures he said would boost economic growth. He reminded his audience he cut property taxes an average 22% just a month after winning an election on July 7 and unseating the previous, leftist government.

Asked to respond to criticism made by main opposition SYRIZA over the negotiation on reducing primary surplus targets, Mitsotakis said he was being absolutely consistent with everything he had said before the elections on this matter.

“This does not mean that I don’t put this on the table during talks and explain why the surpluses are outdated,” he added. High growth rates made the debt automatically more sustainable, Mitsotakis noted. “We have all the arguments for the reduction of primary surpluses on our side and we will do it,” the Prime Minister said.