ECONOMY

Tax evasion fight plan

The government yesterday promised further cuts in income and corporate tax rates as of 2009, on condition that efforts to curb tax evasion bear fruit. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, who made the announcement, had successive meetings with labor and employer leaders, urging their representative agencies, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) and Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) to take part in the National Committee against Tax Evasion which is to be set up shortly. The new body will be assigned the task of proposing measures and mechanisms to deal with the phenomenon. The government also plans to introduce heavier sanctions for corrupt tax officials and is considering stricter penalties for tax evaders, Alogoskoufis said. The aim is none other than securing the resources required to fund major social priorities, such as the Plan for Dealing with Poverty, which envisages an increase in social spending by -2 billion over the next five years, he added. Expounding on the theme, Alogoskoufis said the government plans to devote the extra revenues to reforming the country’s ailing social security system, fight poverty and reduce tax rates. «This is a national effort that attempts neither to target some social group nor provide any alibi for the government for decisions already adopted,» he said. GSEE President Yiannis Panagopoulos said his agency’s participation in the new body will depend on several factors, including the agenda and the political will to implement the committee’s proposals. SEV President Dimitris Daskalopoulos expressed his unreserved support for the plan, but said the fight against tax evasion should be part of a long-term comprehensive program, backed a broad spectrum of political parties committed to implementing it. Alogoskoufis said the effort against tax evasion is planned to last three years and will be backed by a publicity campaign in the media.