Tsakalotos eyes debt deal next month

Tsakalotos eyes debt deal next month

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos expressed optimism on Tuesday that the government will reach a deal with the country’s creditors on debt relief for Greece by April 22, when the Eurogroup convenes, while his ministry is seeking to increase tax revenues from large property owners.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Tsakalotos stated that the negotiations with the heads of the creditors’ mission to Athens will resume on April 4 and could be concluded by April 12-13. The spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund will follow those dates and the aim is for “a final agreement on the entire package” to have been reached by then, “including both Greece’s obligations according to last summer’s [bailout] deal and the country’s debt” by April 22.

He went on to add that “there are a great many players who want a solution to be found [on the debt]. I believe there will be a solution.” A little later his German opposite number, Wolfgang Schaeuble, reiterated that Greece will have to implement all that it has committed itself to.

Among its obligations is to cover the fiscal deficit up to 2018 by identifying measures amounting to the remaining 1.8 billion euros needed for the target of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product to be met at the end of 2018. The government is now considering imposing additional property taxes on owners of large assets through the Single Property Tax (ENFIA), so that even after the downward revision of the property rates used for tax purposes (known as “objective values”) the sum collected will remain at 2.65 billion euros per year.

The ministry is also proposing an increase in the supplementary property tax, concerning owners of properties valued at over 300,000 euros, to secure an additional 200 million euros with a possibility of that rising to 400 million euros per annum.

The alternatives proposed by the creditors for the 1.8-billion-euro gap concern a pay-TV levy, an increase in indirect taxation on fuel and cell phone services, a value-added tax hike on water supply, on bottled water, on spectacles, books and newspapers, and a reduction in defense expenditure. The government only accepts a rise in the fuel consumption tax and rejects the rest.

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