EWG seeks autonomy of tax mechanism

By Vassilis Ziras

Greece’s representative at the Euro Working Group found himself at the receiving end of strong criticism on Friday for the government’s role in the departure of Haris Theoharis from the post of general secretary for public revenues.

The council of senior eurozone finance ministry officials went on to warn that the troika of representatives from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund may ask that the Greek tax collection mechanism be granted full independence from the Greek ministry, along the lines of the Internal Revenue Service in the US.

“I do not believe this was a resignation,” the French representative at the EWG reportedly told his Greek counterpart, Panos Tsakloglou. European governments believe that the Theoharis “resignation” was the first step in a bid to return Greece’s tax collection mechanism to full government control, paving the way for political intervention in its operations. As a result, certain EWG members proposed that the secretariat be given institutional autonomy. The Greek representative asked the council to wait until a new general secretary is selected.