ECONOMY

Dozens of sectors affected by reforms

The omnibus bill that will be voted on on Wednesday night in Parliament provides for a series of changes to the everyday lives of Greeks, ranging from the price of a packet of cigarettes to casino tickets and the tax on photovoltaic plants? revenues.

The cheaper brands of cigarettes will soon cost about 20 cents more per pack, while the price of rolling tobacco will go up by about 0.85 euros. Expensive brands of cigarettes will not be subject to a price hike. The special consumption tax on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used as fuel for vehicles is set to grow from 0.20 euros per liter to 0.33 euros/lt.

Entrance tickets to casinos will drop in price from 15 euros to just 6 (with 4.80 euros of that going straight into the public coffers), while the state?s participation in the gross profits of casino games will rise by two percentage points.

The value-added tax return rate for agricultural products is seen declining from 11 percent to 6 percent ? a measure which will come into effect in the new year ? while diesel used by farmers will see a tax rise from 0.21 euros/lt to 0.66 euros/lt.

As far as the fuel industry is concerned, the bill allows for the free access of independent gasoline stations to refineries, lifting restrictions on fuel trucks, while all vehicles or vessels that carry fuel will have GPS installed so that authorities can keep track of their activities.

The ceiling for cash transactions will be raised from 1,500 to 3,000 euros, with transactions above that level only to be conducted via checks or bank accounts. However, it is not clear how this measure will do anything to help in the battle against tax evasion.

In the photovoltaic energy market, the bill is aimed at bursting the bubble created in recent years by imposing an extraordinary tax of between 25 and 35 percent on solar energy production plants, depending on the time the project was hooked up to the national electricity grid. It will be calculated on the turnover from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014, although this may be extended by another year.

Finally, the draft law creates the position of a general secretary for state revenues, who will be chosen by the Cabinet and will serve for a five-year term, with the possibility of a second five-year term as well.

The position of the general secretary for tax and customs issues will be abolished.