Cross-checking software sits idle

Dozens of software applications that could provide vital help in boosting public revenues remain unused by the General Secretariat for Information Systems (GSIS) during what is a particularly crucial period for the country?s economy.

The reason that the GSIS, a department of the Finance Ministry, cannot use the applications it has received in the last five months is that there are no employees available to test them.

The electronic applications are meant to facilitate the cross-checking process, which under normal circumstances would have assisted the efforts of the auditing mechanisms to contain tax evasion. Their exploitation is more urgent than ever, as Greece?s official creditors have already factored in expected revenues of about 1.5 percent of gross domestic product for 2013 and 2014 from reducing cases of tax evasion.

Sources point to the fact that the central agency of the Finance Ministry and the capital?s tax offices cite the tax employees? workload as the reason why there are not enough personnel to test the new applications and put them to use. It seems irrational that applications of high value are sitting idle and the ministry is refraining from issuing the order that would withdraw some employees from tax offices to check all of the new systems.

All this is happening at a time when public revenues for the first three months of the year have missed their targets, a deficit that will once again have to be covered by the spending side of the budget. A high-ranking official at the Finance Ministry has even said that if the fundamental figures of the budget miss their targets there will be additional measures in June, with a likely impact on salaries and pensions.

Studies show that tax evasion comes to a staggering 15 billion euros per year, while the extra measures that Greece?s creditors have demanded from Athens for the next couple of years amount to 11.7 billion. The creditors had also asked for a permanent secretary to be appointed in the ministry by March 31 to deal with tax and customs, another measure that has not been implemented.