By Prokopis Hatzinikolaou
The main points of the talks that the Finance Ministry will hold with the country’s international creditors when they return to Athens next week will concern expired debts, property taxation and objective values, indirect taxes, capital repatriation.
Following the serious shortfall in state revenues for the first month of the year, the ministry is eagerly anticipating talks with the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – known as the troika – and it has ready plans to present on most issues.
The troika, for its part, is set to insist on an immediate restructuring of the ministry’s mechanism, asking also for the new general secretary for revenues, Haris Theoharis, to be given more powers.
First up on the agenda will be taxpayers’ debts to the state, with the government wishing to lower expectations. According to sources, in cooperation with the General Secretariat for Revenues, the Commission’s Task Force for Greece will deliver to the minister a proposal on new repayment terms by the end of the week, adjusted to the profile of each debtor.
The ministry is examining all aspects of the new property tax imposed on buildings, plots and farms, seeking an optimum solution so as to avoid taxing those with small properties. Ministry officials say the bill will be tabled in Parliament in early June and apply from the second half of the year.
By the end of the month, a special working group will also submit to the minister its conclusions on the new system to determine each property’s so-called “objective” value, used for tax purposes. These values are set to go down in major cities and and increase in rural areas.
Indirect taxes will also return to the table, as the increases in value-added tax and special consumption taxes have not resulted in the anticipated revenues. Changes may come from October in taxes on fuel and tobacco.
The other topics on the negotiating table will concern the lack of progress in the restructuring of the tax collection and monitoring mechanism, and plan to woo capital from abroad to be used for investment in Greece, which will be discussed with European Union authorities.