In a keynote address on Saturday, days after a terrible rainstorm claimed the lives of at least 17 people, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is anticipated to unveil state reforms and relief measures.
After a summer of devastating wildfires, storm Daniel, Greece’s most violent since records began in 1930, forced the conservative premier, who was re-elected in June, to postpone his yearly speech on economic strategy by a week to Sept. 16.
The storm swept through Thessaly in central Greece for three days flooding cities and villages and turning the region into an inland sea. Hundreds of residents were airlifted or pulled out of flooded homes in lifeboats, crops were washed away and tens of thousands of animals drowned.
In his speech at 1700 GMT Mitsotakis will refer to the challenges the country faces due to climate change, a government source said, and will outline support measures, with funding from the state budget and the European Union, for the people and sectors hit by storm Daniel.
Mitsotakis will also announce much-needed reforms across the state to improve ministry coordination, tackle tax evasion, speed up judicial procedures, reduce red tape in the health sector and modernise the education sector.
“We still have a state which, despite the reforms, does not correspond to current needs. So we need to make more changes,” one of the officials said, adding that fiscal prudence was necessary due to the relief measures for Thessaly.
The government’s handling of the disasters have hurt its image among the public. A poll by Metron Analysis published on Thursday for Mega TV showed that 61% of respondents had a negative opinion of the government’s work, versus 57% in May
Mitsotakis is also expected to refer to the country having earlier this month regained an investment grade credit rating after 13 years, which could open the way for more investment and capital inflows.
Greece expects its economic growth to slow to 2.3% this year, from 5.9% in 2022, still outpacing the euro zone average of about 0.6%. It is expected to achieve a primary surplus of 1.1% this year and meet its 2 billion euro annual target in privatisations receipts.
But wildfires and floods are expected to weigh on the economy, which has recently emerged from a decade-long debt crisis. Economic activity in Thessaly accounts for more than 5% of GDP, according to a Eurobank report.
Greece will include any extra spending in a supplementary budget for 2023, which will not derail the country’s fiscal progress, a second official said.