Thursday April 2, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
A taxing issue for Greece

By Nick Malkoutzis

Greeces 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 governments 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.

Its more than just a question of installing new software and retraining staff. Its 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 Greeces public administration, its 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 Greeces 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 wouldnt 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 werent a problem, perhaps it would be worth contemplating. But theres another reason that this approach isnt 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)  
Going his own way
Righting the wrongs
Amateur antics or overstepping the mark?
A pointless debate
Government considers ministry switch after Parliament protest
The government is considering putting the Citizens Protection Ministry under the auspices of the Justice Ministry in a bid to boost both civil rights and public order, sources said on Wedne...
Updated reform list still not enough to unlock aid
Greek officials and euro-area technical experts yesterday discussed an updated list of reform proposals but were unable to reach an agreement that would pave the way for Greece ending its li...
Inside News
ECB raises ELA limit by 700 mln euros
Greek banks received a cash lifeline of just 700 million euros from the European Central Bank on Wednesday as this is the estimated amount of liquidity needed by the local credit system for ...
Attica office market sees no end to crisis-linked drop in demand
No more than 45,000 square meters of office space has been absorbed by the Attica market through new leases in the last couple of years, according to data compiled by Savills Hellas property...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
AEK could get a wild card to the Euroleague
AEK shows capable of climbing as high as third in the Basket League, as its 16-point home win over third-placed Aris on Sunday confirmed it can challenge both Aris and PAOK to the first spot...
SOCCER
Cyprus soccer eyes reunion after 60-year divorce
Turkish Cypriot soccer officials on Monday vowed to press ahead with attempts to reunite with the Cyprus Football Association, (CFA), triggering a political storm on the ethnically-split isl...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. ECB raises ELA limit by 700 mln euros
2. Attica office market sees no end to crisis-linked drop in demand
3. Stathakis prefers PPPs for the concession of regional airports
4. One-off takings help revenues
5. Stocks slide in particularly thin trade
6. Government considers ministry switch after Parliament protest
more news
Today
This Week
1. Going his own way
2. Finance Ministry officials to discuss talks progress as EU pushes for action [Update]
3. Athens aims to tighten ties with Russia
4. Spike in migrants reaching Lesvos
5. Buffett says Greek exit from euro may not be a bad thing
6. Greek economy minister sees deal with EU/IMF on reforms next week
Today
This Week
1. Next Monday is D-Day for state funds
2. Eurogroup unlikely to be held soon to discuss Greek reforms
3. Moscow expects progress from Tsipras visit
4. Amateur antics or overstepping the mark?
5. Greece optimistic on deal with euro area next week
6. ECB nerves fray on Greece as supervisors rile central bankers
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.