Greece’s tax collectors were told over the weekend that they would have to do a much better job this year at gathering overdue taxes. How much better? Almost 200 percent.
According to Skai TV, some 700 million euros was collected in 2011 by chasing down taxpayers that had run up debts. This year, inspectors will have to collect 2 billion euros as Greece tries to meet even tougher fiscal targets amid a deepening recession.
Preliminary figures showed that tax revenues were already 1 billion euros short of the government’s target in January alone, with VAT receipts showing a considerable drop. As consumption decreases, so do revenues, which makes it even more vital that any existing debts are settled.
For some, its presence in Athens is a clear indication that Greece’s eurozone partners want to run the country themselves; for others it is a confirmation that the European Union wants to offer practical help. Whatever your view on the EU Task Force for Greece, though, there are a couple of things that are undeniable: the team from Brussels is aiming to facilitate the disbursement of about 15 billion euros in EU structural funds over the next two years that would help Greek jobs and businesses, and it is helping provide expertise in areas of Greek public administration that suffer from chronic problems, such as tax collection and the judicial system.
The Task Force officially assumed its role in Greece on September 1 and recently published the first quarterly report on its work. It is made up of about 25 people in Brussels — led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) vice president Horst Reichenbach — and of 12 people in Athens. The Athens “antenna” is headed by Georgette Lalis, a Greek who has been a civil servant with the European Commission since 1981. She has held several executive positions but her last job in Brussels was as director of international affairs for energy. Between 2001 and 2004, she was CEO of the land registry (Ktimatologio SA).
Speaking to Kathimerini English Edition, Lalis distanced the role of the Task Force from that of the troika and identified a wide range of projects that it is cooperating on with Greek authorities, including a change to EU rules to provide Greek businesses with a working capital injection of 500 million euros.
Posted in Economy, European Union, Greece, Greek politics
Tagged EU, EU cohesion funds, EU structural funds, EU Task Force for Greece, euro, European Commission, European Union, eurozone, Georgette Lalis, Greece, Greece public administration, Greece taxes, Greece troika, Horst Reichenbach, SMEs
Illustration by Manos Symeonakis
In times of crisis, you need politicians that are level-headed, make well-judged comments in public and have an ability to empathize with pressurized citizens. Greece has Theodoros Pangalos.
The outspoken deputy prime minister provoked a strong public and media reaction when he claimed last week that he would have trouble paying the emergency property tax. Pangalos explained in a live TV interview that his bill would be particularly large as he had the misfortune of inheriting several properties. The PASOK veteran said he was being forced to sell one of these properties to raise money to pay the tax. When asked what he would do if he couldn’t pull the deal off, Pangalos suggested that Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos might put him in jail.
Posted in Economy, Greece, Greek politics
Tagged Greece, Greece austerity, Greece taxes, Greek crisis, Greek MPs, Greek MPs benefits, Greek MPs wages, Greek politics, Theodoros Pangalos
Illustration by Manos Symeonakis
As Greece draws breath after voting for a new package of austerity measures likely to pave the way for another loan agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, this might be an opportune moment to identify one of the key faults with the first memorandum signed last year. Because, like a Hollywood sequel which follows a dire original, Memorandum II is likely to make us want to look away in horror.
There is plenty in the medium-term fiscal plan, or MTFP as it’s known in sequel speak, about reducing public spending. Greece plans to save more than 14 billion euros by 2015. This means, among other things, that the public sector wage bill will be cut by 770 million euros this year, 600 millon in 2012, 448 million in 2013, 300 million in 2014 and 71 million in 2015.
Posted in Economy, European Union, Greece
Tagged EU, EU-IMF bailout, EU-IMF memorandum, European Union, George Papandreou, Greece, Greece austerity, Greece corruption, Greece loan memorandum, Greece memorandum, Greece public education, Greece public expenditure, Greece public health, Greece public sector, Greece public sector reform, Greece public spending cuts, Greece tax evasion, Greece taxes, Greek bailout, Greek civil service, Greek public administration, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Jean-Claude Juncker