NEWS

Samaras singles out tax rate as key factor

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras indicated on Monday that he would be willing to agree on some points of economic policy with the government if it adopted his position that taxes need to be reduced rather than raised, as the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have requested.

Speaking to the members of his parliamentary group, Samaras sought to change the perception that he is preventing the political consensus that the EU has asked for. The ND leader said he refused to agree to the measures proposed by the government because he believes that further taxation will compound the Greek economy?s problems.

Samaras said he would be willing to sit down with Prime Minister George Papandreou and even meet with the troika if the government comes over to his point of view on taxation. ?If the issue of taxation is also up for discussion… then there would be room for consensus,? he said.

Samaras failed to reach any agreement with Papandreou when the pair met twice last week. The ND leader told his deputies the government and the troika should think about adopting some of the proposals that the conservatives have put forward, such as reducing taxes. ?The troika says that it would be better to do this at a later date, insisting that doing it now would increase the deficit,? he said. ?We disagree and we can convince them about this because our program would bring results.?

Samaras argued that his proposal to drop the tax rate to 15 percent is less radical than the scheme in Ireland, where businesses are taxed at 12.5 percent.

The ND chief sided with Papandreou on rejecting talk of restructuring or leaving the euro. ?Everybody should realize that rumors about restructuring kills the economy and talk about the drachma does even worse.?