European Commissioner in Athens to discuss tax issues

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras was to meet in Athens on Monday with the European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, Algirdas Semeta, to discuss Greece’s efforts to improve tax collection and other economic reforms pledged to the country’s foreign creditors.

Semeta is to meet with the head of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), Andreas Georgiou, on Monday before he addresses Parliament’s European affairs and transparency committees. The Lithuanian commissioner is to give a press conference in the afternoon before leaving Athens.

One of the top issues that Greek government officials are expected to broach in talks with Semeta is their request for a lowering of the 23 percent value added tax rate on restaurants and tavernas despite comments by International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde over the weekend all but ruling out such a move.

Inspectors of the IMF and Greece’s two other official foreign creditors, the European Commission and European Central Bank, are due in Athens on Tuesday for a new audit.

Also on Tuesday, a cross-party committee is to convene to discuss the new unified property tax which is to be enforced from 2014, replacing the emergency property levy which has been attached to electricity bills since its introduction in the fall of 2011. The Finance Ministry was on Monday expected to submit proposals for alternative scenarios to the committee for the new property levy which will also tax plots of land unless the owners can prove that the plots are being cultivated.