Tax collection efforts must continue, Zanias says

Greece?s caretaker government will step up attempts to curb tax evasion and meet revenue targets, Finance Minister Giorgios Zanias said.

?It is a national duty to pay taxes,? Zanias told reporters Monday after a visit to the offices of the financial crimes squad in Athens. Greece can?t allow any relaxation of tax-collection efforts during the country?s pre-election period, a time when revenue traditionally drops, he said.

Greece has a caretaker government in place as it heads to a repeat election on June 17 after a May 6 poll failed to produce a viable government amid gains for parties that oppose the terms of the country?s bailouts from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Under the program, Greece has to reduce its budget deficit to 7.3 percent of gross domestic product this year from 9.3 percent in 2011, and cut its primary deficit, which excludes interest payments, to 1 percent from 2.4 percent.

Public revenue dropped 15 percent in the first 10 days of May compared with the same period of 2011, according to Kathimerini. The Finance Ministry forecasts that with no improvement in collection, revenue for the month will be down 50 percent compared with May 2011.

Zanias said Monday he would consult with the heads of other agencies involved in revenue and tax collection to keep up the effort. [Bloomberg]