Cabbies get their way on receipts

Taxi drivers are to begin removing receipt dispensers that the previous government had obliged them to install in their vehicles after unionists reached an agreement with the new government regarding the way they are to be taxed. According to the agreement with senior Economy Ministry officials, which was made public by unionists on Tuesday but which the government has yet to officially confirm, taxi drivers will continue to be taxed a flat rate rather than via an income-related system the PASOK government had wanted to impose along with the receipt dispensers. The new tax regime – according to which tax would have been levied on the basis of the real income of each taxi driver as recorded by receipt dispensers – had been due to come into effect in 2005. Cabbies had been told they would be obliged to issue receipts and keep accounts books. When the measures were first proposed in June of last year, cabbies passionately opposed them, staging several protest marches and drives through central Athens and other cities. They continued their protests for months but, pressed by the government to install the registers by the beginning of this year, eventually complied. This week’s decision, if confirmed by the new government, effectively derails the new tax system heralded by PASOK and gives taxi drivers what they have long been campaigning for. Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Deputy Adam Regouzas reacted «extremely positively to valid demands,» according to a statement issued by the Panhellenic Federation of Professional Taxi Owners. But the cabbies’ demands do not stop there. Unionists are less pleased with Transport Minister Michalis Liapis, whom they resent for refusing to lift a ban on taxis using bus lanes. They maintain that, by refusing to allow them access to the lanes, the government is going back on pre-election promises and pursuing a policy «guaranteed to lead to clashes.»