By Prokopis Hatzinikolaou
The expired debts of major companies – including state corporations – owed to the tax authorities are mounting by the month.
In July 2011 the Finance Ministry published expired debts in excess of 150,000 euros owed by enterprises to the tax and customs authorities. Since then, most of the amounts published have more than doubled, as in the cases of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) and Olympic Airways Services. For the other companies, the debt rose, but not to the same extent, or remained unchanged.
The processing of the ministry data shows that corporate debts came to 30.9 billion euros in July 2011. According to the latest figures in September 2013, they had soared to 48.6 billion euros.
Since the summer of 2011, when that statistical data was released, no one has referred to it again. It is, for instance, quite strange that OSE’s debt should grow from 1.2 billion to 2.8 billion euros. Speaking to Kathimerini, a senior Finance Ministry official cited debts “between ministries.” Irrespective of who takes responsibility for the debt or not, it continues to increase and show up in the statistics. The same official argued that those debts do not have a fiscal impact, because while one ministry may record them as debts, another will record them as requirements.
The debts of Olympic Airways Services have also soared. From 152 million euros in July 2011, they have grown nearly fivefold, to 733 million euros.
Sources say that in the next few days a ministerial decision will be issued to the effect that debts deemed impossible to collect will effectively be written off. This means that over 20 billion euros of debts will be archived, and in the unlikely event that one of the debtors appears to obtain a fortune, their archived debt will be collected by the monitoring authorities.