Historic constitutional move as Greece offers minimum guaranteed income to its citizens



As Greece commenced its fourth attempt since 1975 to make changes to the country's Constitution, on Tuesday Labour and Social Protection Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said the government was set to make a historic move by introducing a minimum guaranteed income.

"Today we are taking a most important, meaningful and historic step by proposing a constitutional guarantee of the minimum guaranteed income," said the Minister during the debate on revising the constitution in parliament.

Noting it as a "flagship" measure for social protection and social rights, Vroutsas said the initiative aimed to strengthen and support the poorest members of society, who were hard hit by the economic crisis.

"In this way, those that are weaker acquire an additional right and are for the first time visible in the constitutional order, while equality, proportionality, social rights and security of law are made stronger," Vroutsis said.

The minimum guaranteed income is currently given to 240,000 households, supporting 450,000 people in total. These included 156,000 unemployed persons, 20,000 single-parent families and more than 56,000 households with children.

The minister said that 236,000 of the recipient households had an annual income that was less than 5,000 euros and 130,000 had no income at all. An estimated 670 million euros will be disbursed this year, with the average being 213 euros per household.

On his part, the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet, "We are constitutionally guaranteeing a minimum income - that is, a safety net for the weakest" members of society, Mitsotakis said. "Based on the constitution, the Greek state will now ensure a decent quality of life for all citizens," the PM added.

The plenary debate for the revision of the Constitution will conclude next Monday November 25, when the articles under revision will be put to a vote. The vote will be preceded by five all-day plenary sessions, in which the parties will debate the proposals made by the Parliamentary Committee for the Revision of Constitution for the articles in question.

The aim of the ruling majority during the five-day debate is to find a common ground on crucial issues of major importance that will allow parliament to arrive at a broader consensus.