ECONOMY

Traders argue tax reforms miss target

Changes to the tax system, voted in by lawmakers earlier this week, fail to improve on weaknesses in revenue collection services nor do they provide any incentives for growth as the economy continues to shrink, according to a traders group. The National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), which represents almost 90 percent of the country’s commercial enterprises, said the reforms fail to create credible tax collection services or help to catch tax cheats. «Problems concerning the complexity [of tax laws], the cost of money and bureaucracy have not been not solved,» ESEE said in a statement yesterday. Parliament approved on Thursday a series of tax changes aimed at boosting revenues and getting the country through its worst economic crisis in decades. In an overhaul to the system described by Prime Minister George Papandreou as being «revolutionary,» changes include increases in fuel and cigarettes levies, broader luxury goods taxes and higher value-added tax. «Despite being up for debate for five months… the necessary growth push is not being achieved,» ESEE said. With the economy expected to shrink by between 2 and 4 percent this year, tax collection services have got off to a bad start this year, according to sources. Only three of 67 tax agencies in the Attica region have met their targets in the first three months of the year, with some missing their targets by more than 20 percent.