Sunday February 1, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
16o C
13o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Turning the page realistically

By Alexis Papachelas

At some point we need to adopt a more practical approach to a number of sensitive issues and abandon the Northern European dogmatism that reads well on paper but has little practical effect. I am specifically referring to the ongoing talks between the government and the troika for steps to repatriate Greek capital that has been transferred abroad.

The troika and certain government officials have so far opposed the idea of an agreement that would effectively legalize deposits that may be illegally acquired or the product of tax evasion. It is true that there is no point in repatriating tainted money and legitimizing it at a time when you are trying to change peoples attitudes to tax evasion. That said, a lot has changed since the start of the crisis. Tax control mechanisms have improved significantly and are able to act as a deterrent, at least to those flirting with the idea of breaking the law.

The country, however, is at crucial juncture and must turn over a new leaf. We have to find a way to make sure than anyone who embezzled public money or committed a crime is punished. On the other hand, we need to prop up our banks and boost the market and growth. The conditions are ripe for such a move, at least on an international level, though less so on a domestic one. Tax havens are gradually shutting down or implementing stricter controls. Switzerland, for example, is no longer the sure bet it was for seasoned tax dodgers and they know that their other options carry greater risks. On a practical level this means that there are Greeks who would even be willing to give up a large chunk of their deposits abroad in order to be in the clear once and for all.

But is anyone willing to do this knowing that a new government may come along to cancel the related legislation and go after those who have declared their assets abroad? Its a difficult question, but people who know how the market works believe that with certain guarantees and under certain preconditions, the scheme could prove successful. They believe that the money that could come back to Greece or be officially declared may be as much as 100 billion euros.

So what would the benefits be? Part of the money would return to Greek banks and would go a long way toward ensuring that they pass their stress tests this coming fall. The real estate market would also stand to win and of course the state would reap significant revenues from the fines it would impose on those who want to bring their money back.

I understand that there is a huge moral dimension to this issue but we need to be practical, realistic. If we want to turn the page and start functioning like a normal country this is the better course. If we would rather take the moral high ground, without reward and results, then we should just do nothing.

So, let us look to other countries that have succeeded in both respecting their institutions and maintaining a realistic position, such as the US, for example, which is increasingly stepping up effort to combat tax evasion while at the same time offering opportunities for amnesty.

ekathimerini.com , Monday Jul 7, 2014 (15:39)  
The dogma and the command center
Silence will not be forgiven
Greece shakes Europes political kaleidoscope: expect the unexpected
Unyielding truth
A week in and Greeces new leftist PM sticks to tough line, for now
Judging from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' first week in office, Greece's new leftist government is determined to take the hard-line, anti-bailout stance that international investors and Eu...
Greece starts drive to sell new debt deal to doubting Europe
Greece's leftist government on Sunday began its drive to persuade a sceptical Europe to accept a new debt agreement while it starts to roll back on austerity measures imposed under its exist...
Inside News
Coalition ally seeks tax amnesty to get cash back to banks
The junior partner in Greece's ruling coalition plans to propose a tax amnesty on undeclared income deposited in Greek banks in a bid to reverse the rising tide of funds fleeing the country,...
Dijsselbloem says Greece has to decide how to move ahead
The chairman of euro-area finance ministers group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said its up to the Greek government to decide how to move forward in resolving its economic and financial problems. D...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Panathinaikos preserves perfect home record
After yet another great performance at home, Panathinaikos defeated Galatasaray 86-77 in Athens on Friday to get to three wins in five games at the Euroleague top-16. The Greek champion shoo...
SOCCER
Gattuso: Unpaid OFI players couldnt buy food
Former coach Gennaro Gattuso has lifted the lid on the plight of crisis-club OFI Crete which has been banned from playing in the Super League until it clears mounting debts with its staff. T...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. A week in and Greeces new leftist PM sticks to tough line, for now
2. Greece starts drive to sell new debt deal to doubting Europe
3. Coalition ally seeks tax amnesty to get cash back to banks
4. France open to easing Greek debt burden, says finance minister
5. Poll shows most Germans want Greece to stay in eurozone
6. Frances Sapin says Greece has no future outside the euro
more news
Today
This Week
1. Dijsselbloem says Greece has to decide how to move ahead
2. Greece shakes Europe's political kaleidoscope: expect the unexpected
3. France open to easing Greek debt burden, says finance minister
4. Greece offers olive branch to seek allies
5. The dogma and the command center
6. Poll shows most Germans want Greece to stay in eurozone
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
3. EU must accept that Greek debt relief is inevitable
4. SYRIZA's win will test institutions
5. Greek Elections 2015: The day after | LIVE
6. Athens may veto further EU sanctions against Russia
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.