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Greece has financial flexibility for tax relief package -minister

ATHENS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Greece has the financial flexibility to implement 6.8 billion euros ($8 billion) of tax relief measures, announced on Saturday, and the package has been agreed with EU institutions, its finance minister said.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled the package on Saturday saying it would boost jobs amid an economic slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The country can afford it because it has the financial flexibility,” Christos Staikouras told Real FM radio on Sunday. “Cash reserves stand at 37.8 billion euros ($44.77 billion).”

Greece has been under enhanced supervision by EU institutions since it emerged from bailout programmes in August 2018.

The Greek economy was on a recovery path but that ground to a halt after the outbreak of COVID-19 and measures to combat the pandemic. The economy slumped at an annual 15.2% clip in the second quarter in the face of the coronavirus shock.

Staikouras said the package, including cuts in social security charges for workers and employers, extended unemployment benefits and scrapping a so-called solidarity tax on incomes for one year, were agreed with EU institutions.

“Being under enhanced supervision, the country is obliged to inform (EU institutions) on the policy initiatives it takes. The measures were agreed in the previous week,” Staikouras said.

$1 = 0.8442 euros Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Susan Fenton

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