NEWS

Property tax via electricity bills to stay this year

Preparations for the troika’s return to Athens continued on Friday, when Prime Minister Antonis Samaras held a fresh round of talks with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras as the government appeared to accept it would have to continue levying an emergency property tax via electricity bills.

Senior government sources admitted that the coalition has been left with little choice but to continue using electricity bills to collect the tax, which has raised about 3 billion euros a year since 2011, when it was introduced.

The troika has insisted that any other method will not be as effective and that the country’s lenders would calculate a 1-billion-euro loss in revenues, which would have to be covered by other measures, if the government chooses to collect the tax through other means. The troika already believes that Greece will experience a 2.7-billion-euro shortfall this year and next.

Kathimerini understands that the coalition is looking at reducing the rate of the unpopular tax for either all properties or for just smaller ones.

Samaras is due to hold talks with his coalition partners, PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis, on Wednesday to discuss this and other issues ahead of the troika’s arrival, which is scheduled for April 3 or 4. Samaras is keen to conclude negotiations with the troika and secure the release of the March installment of Greece’s bailout, worth 2.8 billion euros.