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Greece lines up tax cuts

Greece is set to ask its eurozone partners when the Eurogroup meets on May 5 for permission to gradually reduce corporation tax rates as part of a wider plan to generate growth in Greece, Kathimerini understands.

Several government officials, including Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis met Tuesday to finalize a three-page proposal that will form the basis for a growth plan that will run from this year until 2020. Both coalition parties, New Democracy and PASOK, were represented at the meeting.

Apart from the tax cuts, which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras advocated even when he was in opposition, the text also focuses on areas where Greece can do more to drive growth, which has been absent from the country since the second half of 2008. These areas include tourism, renewable energy, exportable agricultural products, fish farms and waste management. Athens will request extra European Union structural funds to help advances in these areas given the lack of liquidity in the local market.

“My immediate source of concern is cash, liquidity,” Samaras told Bloomberg in an interview published on Tuesday. “It’s crazy when you have companies that can really succeed, but lack access to finance.”

Samaras pointed to investment by companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei and ZTE as evidence that the tide is turning. “We reached rock bottom and now we can only go up and we will go up,” he said.

The premier also underlined the government’s plans to build on the 2013 primary budget surplus, which Eurostat is expected to rubber-stamp today. “We expect by the year 2015 that we will have not simply primary surplus, but that we’re going to have a fiscal surplus,” he said. “This means we will be able on our own to pay our debt, without borrowing at all. There are very few European countries that are doing this today.”

Samaras also dismissed the idea that the coalition would “lose big” in next month’s local and European Parliament elections.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday April 22, 2014 (20:38)  
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