By Sotiris Nikas
Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras categorically denied on Wednesday that there is any prospect of new taxes being imposed, adding that Greece is ready to issue a new bond but will likely do so after May’s European Parliament elections. He also stated that negotiations over the new lightening of the country’s debt will start at the Eurogroup meeting after next.
In an interview on Skai Radio, Stournaras made it clear that “there is no way we will impose any new taxes.” However, he did add that the abolition of certain taxes will be delayed, and, in reference to the solidarity tax, he said that it will be maintained “for as long as it takes for us to meet the fiscal targets.” He noted the bailout agreement provides for Greece to gradually relax its tax rates on the condition that it meets its targets.
The minister said the next bailout tranche will add up to some 9 billion euros and will be delivered in a lump sum, while after May, “the program ends as far as Europe is concerned and another 9 billion euros will come from the International Monetary Fund up until February 2016.” Greece’s funding needs are fully covered until May 2015, and under certain conditions up to March 2016, he explained. “After that, we will be able to enter the markets fully, for all our requirements,” said Stournaras.
Before then, Greece will have tapped the markets in a “trial issue.” The minister said that “we are almost ready, and we will return to the markets when we deem that conditions are appropriate.” Questioned as to whether that would come before the European elections, he responded, “Probably not.” The ministry’s aim is to issue a new bond of about 1.5-2 billion euros with an interest rate that will be below 6 percent, likely closer to 5.7 percent.
Regarding the calculation of the capital gains tax on property transactions, Stournaras said it will be clarified when the multi-bill that is to include the measures agreed with the country’s creditors is tabled in Parliament. He said the measure will only concern properties owned for no more than a certain period, that “will likely be around 20 years, but the precise period will be known upon the tabling of the bill.”