Name-and-shame treatment for tax debtors gets green light

The names of individuals and companies that owe large amounts of money to the state are to be made public in the next few weeks, according to a decision taken by the government.

Sources told Sunday?s Kathimerini that Prime Minister George Papandreou gave the green light during a meeting with several other ministers on Friday for the names of the major debtors to be published. The government is aiming to produce a list before Papandreou delivers his economic policy speech at the Thessaloniki International Fair on September 10.

The prime minister is said to be conscious that many voters feel angered by his government?s inability to get to grips with tax evasion.

According to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry in July, some 900,000 people owe 41.1 billion euros. However, the vast amount of this money is owed by a very small number of people: 5 percent of tax dodgers owe 85 percent of the outstanding amount. Just 14,700 individuals, companies or organizations owe 37 billion euros.

Sources said that the government has assuaged the concerns of the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (APPD) about privacy laws being breached. The naming and shaming will form just one part of the government?s strategy to tackle tax evasion over the next few weeks.

Athens is also close to reaching an agreement with Swiss banking authorities to obtain the details of Greeks who have deposited money in the country. The government aims to check these details against the declaration of source of wealth, or pothen esches, forms submitted by the individuals in question to ascertain whether they should pay more tax.