Thursday October 2, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
27o C
19o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
A taxing issue for Greece

By Nick Malkoutzis

Greece’s tax collectors were told over the weekend that they would have to do a much better job this year at gathering overdue taxes. How much better? Almost 200 percent.

According to Skai TV, some 700 million euros was collected in 2011 by chasing down taxpayers that had run up debts. This year, inspectors will have to collect 2 billion euros as Greece tries to meet even tougher fiscal targets amid a deepening recession.

Preliminary figures showed that tax revenues were already 1 billion euros short of the government’s target in January alone, with VAT receipts showing a considerable drop. As consumption decreases, so do revenues, which makes it even more vital that any existing debts are settled.

However, to do that, Greece needs the appropriate personnel and know-how. Although progress is being made both in terms of the information technology being used by the tax service and the assessment of staff, there is still considerable ground to be covered.

It’s more than just a question of installing new software and retraining staff. It’s an issue of shedding the mentality and practices of the past and replacing them with something new. This is something more complicated and time-consuming.

The backwardness of Greece’s public administration, it’s ability to trip itself up either by mistake or on purpose, is one of the factors that the Europeans and the International Monetary Fund grossly underestimated over the last couple of years.

This self-destructive tendency was in evidence on Saturday when tax collectors belonging to one union protested outside Greece’s National School of Public Administration as exams took place inside with the aim of assembling a crack squad of 1,000 tax inspectors that would tackle tax arrears and evasion more effectively. The protestors felt that members of the other tax collectors’ union were being favored. Cynics might say that a tax collection A-team wouldn’t suit some of their colleagues who have a nice sideline in pocketing bribes in return for turning a blind eye. Upsetting this clandestine business would hit their incomes hard.

Either way, the outcome of the protest, which prompted the intervention of the police, was that only a few dozen inspectors took the test. When compared with the news from Italy over the weekend that more than 70 tax inspectors were sent to Courmayeur ski resort to check if receipts are being issued, one can see what a huge distance Greece has to cover.

Some would suggest that the only way forward is for the whole department to be stripped down and rebuilt. If the short-term hole in revenues that this would create weren’t a problem, perhaps it would be worth contemplating. But there’s another reason that this approach isn’t feasible. As part of the new loan agreement, Greece has committed to letting 150,000 civil servants go by 2015. It has also promised to only hire 1 public sector employee for every five that leave.

This means that overhauling any department is out of the question because new hires cannot be made in significant numbers. Any change has to be a gradual process of evolution. With its lenders bearing on Greece, this unsatisfying compromise is hardly going to be enough to produce the results everyone wants.

[Kathimerini English Edition]

ekathimerini.com , Sunday February 19, 2012 (23:19)  
There´s money, still
Confidence and corrections
Truth before the battle
Bending the rules
Pensioners stage rally in central Athens
Parts of central Athens were closed to traffic on Thursday morning as dozens of pensioners staged a rally on Vassilissis Sophias Avenue. The pensioners were protesting against the government...
Piraeus bus routes altered due to metro station works
Bus routes in Piraeus were expected to be altered beginning on Friday due to works carried out at the city's metro station, it was announced Thursday. For more information on the upcoming bu...
Inside News
Moscovici in charge of budgets seen prompting EU deficits debate
Pierre Moscovici, the man lined up to enforce budget discipline in the euro area, is the former finance minister of an economy that’s repeatedly failed to meet its deficit goals. Appearing b...
European stocks decline as investors await ECB policy meeting
European stocks fell, extending their lowest level in more than five weeks, as investors awaited the outcome of the European Central Bank’s policy review. U.S. index futures were little chan...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Rosenberg punishes Olympiakos´s errors at Malmoe
A disappointing Olympiakos got the worst possible result from its clash with Malmoe in Sweden for the Champions League, going down 2-0 on Wednesday due to its own defensive errors and attack...
SOCCER
All team sports suspended next weekend in memory of dead fan
The government announced on Monday the suspension of all team sports events in Greece scheduled for next weekend, October 4 and 5, in the memory of the Ethnikos Piraeus fan who died a few ho...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Pensioners stage rally in central Athens
2. Piraeus bus routes altered due to metro station works
3. Moscovici in charge of budgets seen prompting EU deficits debate
4. Air travel to run smoothly after air traffic controllers´ weekend strike deemed illegal
5. Doctors, medical employees strike over staff shortages, wages
6. European stocks decline as investors await ECB policy meeting
more news
Today
This Week
1. Doctors, medical employees strike over staff shortages, wages
2. Court to hear Kasidiriaris-Kanelli case
3. European stocks decline as investors await ECB policy meeting
4. Air travel to run smoothly after air traffic controllers' weekend strike deemed illegal
5. Moscovici in charge of budgets seen prompting EU deficits debate
6. Piraeus bus routes altered due to metro station works
Today
This Week
1. Greece may opt for unusual president to avoid snap polls, Venizelos says
2. Woman allegedly buried alive by accident in northern Greece
3. Salaries in Greece continue to slide, dipping 1.4 pct in Q2
4. Should you bet with Kissinger on where the world is heading?
5. Cypriots divided by 1974 war seek Shariah hub
6. The shocking thought of euro-dollar parity
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.