Regouzas wants stricter tax collection after exposing target

A day after creating a furor by admitting that the government had knowingly overestimated 2004 public revenues, Deputy Finance Minister Adam Regouzas yesterday directed tax authorities to intensify checks and inspections in order to bolster the pace of collection. In a ministry circular, he called particular attention to the unsettled tax cases of fiscal years 1998 and 1999 and others that included forged documents, which are due to be written off after December 31, 2005. In a press briefing on Monday, Regouzas said that last October, when the government was drafting the 2005 budget, it provided for additional revenues of 1.3 billion euros which would bring the 2004 figures into line and which it knew could not be collected. «We knew in advance that we could not collect,» he said. «The provision was shallow. This is how it’s always done.» His remark was interpreted as indirectly shifting the blame for the shortfall to his peer in the same ministry, Petros Doukas, who had final responsibility for the drafting of the budget. In the preamble to the 2005 draft budget, the end-of-2004 public revenue figure was projected 7.2 percent higher, at 43.7 billion euros. A few months later, the Finance Ministry’s General Accounting Office said the final 2004 tally came to 42 billion euros. In a later statement on Monday, Regouzas blamed the previous PASOK government for the shortfall and said the present administration is striving for the strict execution of the 2005 budget. However, Regouzas’s efforts to replenish public coffers are still off-target to date. He announced that the May revenue figure was again short of the targeted 10.2 percent annual rise, at 6.7 percent, even though it represented an improvement from previous months. Separately, Dias, the company running the interbank ATM network, said taxpayers will not be able pay any taxes due through ATMs, as announced by Regouzas on Monday.

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