ECONOMY

Finance inspectorate upgrade

The government is planning a thorough overhaul of the finance inspectorate, sources at the Ministry of Economy and Finance said yesterday. According to a top ministry official, a bill that will be submitted to Parliament «very soon» will reorganize the inspectorate and enhance its powers in order to tackle corruption within the ministry. New Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and his deputies want to conduct an in-depth investigation to determine the existence of corrupt officials, especially among tax officers and the financial crimes squad (SDOE). There have been allegations of officials’ corruption by citizens or companies and some have been caught in the act. (Whether this announcement is a way for the government to strike back at SDOE is not easy to determine. Since it won the March 7 election, the New Democracy government has been forced to backtrack from its pledge to abolish SDOE, as many businesses took its pledge as a license to avoid issuing receipts. As a result, state revenues have plummeted.) The ministry official told Kathimerini that, currently, the financial inspectorate contains too many inexperienced civil servants who would be unable to make a proper investigation. He added that the current government would place experienced personnel in the inspectorate and that any signs of corruption would be promptly dealt with. The inspectorate will be allowed to investigate tax and SDOE officials’ – and their close relatives’ – lifestyles for signs of corruption.