Greece tops EU black economy list

Greece’s rampant black economy is the most robust of the 15 European Union member states and another six of the world’s most developed countries, according to an International Monetary Fund report made public yesterday. The report, conducted by the University of Linz in Austria on behalf of the IMF and presented by European Commission officials in Brussels, found that close to a third (28.7 percent) of all economic activity in Greece in 1999-2000 was unregistered – and untaxed. Starting from 1989-1990, when Greece was still a close second to Italy, the study found that the Greek black economy took off with a vengeance in 1994-1995, soaring from an average 24.9 percent of all economic activity from 1990-1993 to reach 28.6 percent. It peaked in 1997-1998 at 29 percent, before receding to the current level. Italy came second on the list of 21 countries at 27.1 percent for 1999-2000. Switzerland was lowest at 8.6 percent, behind the USA’s 8.7 percent. «Member states must make more efforts to estimate the value of undeclared labor, reduce it and transform it into legal labor,» Employment Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou commented. «If we manage to estimate the extent [of undeclared labor] then we will be able to control it.» The commission drew up a study on reducing the black economy in seven EU members – not including Greece – according to which the main course of action must be to render legal employment attractive through more elastic labor relations, and even by means of lower taxation.

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