PM vows to take on tax dodgers

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday pledged to begin a crackdown on widespread tax evasion to boost dwindling state coffers and called on his ministers to redouble their efforts to raise revenues over the summer. «We are absolutely determined to stamp out tax evasion,» Karamanlis said, following a visit to the office of Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou. Describing the avoidance of taxes as «extremely anti-social behavior,» the premier said he was intent on tackling the problem, despite previous failed efforts. «Our goals are not easy ones to achieve and our immediate priority should be to boost state revenues,» he said. Karamanlis added that planned structural reforms, including a new salary structure for civil servants and the merging of certain state bodies, should be implemented without delay. The leader of main the opposition PASOK party, George Papandreou, countered that the government is proceeding with no concrete plan, claiming that crucial sectors were at risk. «Just as there is no planning for tourism, there is no planning whatsoever for our economy in general,» Papandreou said. Karamanlis did not comment on matters of foreign policy yesterday. But he was briefed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on the outcome of talks earlier this week with Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations envoy mediating in Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s name. Bakoyannis expressed optimism in view of a reportedly constructive shift in the stance of officials in Skopje. But she indicated that progress would not be easy. «We have a difficult, but interesting, six months ahead,» she said.