Under the rug

If anyone declared only two-thirds of their income to the tax office to pay less tax, we would call him a tax evader. Accordingly, if he were nagged by inspectors he would have to pay fines and see his credibility damaged. We obviously agree that there is a crime here that calls for sanctions. But what is true for taxpayers is not so for the state, at least according to patriotic PASOK. Its shadow economy minister Vasso Papandreou has criticized the New Democracy government because its revision of the GDP for the years after 2000 means that Greece will have to pay an extra -5 billion to European Union funds. But few seem to understand what PASOK’s whining is all about. Is it the upward revision of the GDP after 2000 (that is, when the Socialists were in power)? Or is it that Greece will need to return more money to the EU? If that is the case, Papandreou is effectively saying that, unlike common people, the state can get away with evading taxes. Again, a PASOK spokesman said last year that his party made no budget revision, for that would mean reduced EU subsidies. In other words, they were bragging of fooling the gullible Europeans. But years of sweeping debts under the rug have left Greece with a massive debt and a bad image. PASOK hides the fact that under EU pressure, it made a revision in 1994 that showed a 20 percent increase in GDP. But it was done so poorly that the EU refused to recognize it. The EU came back in 2002 demanding a more serious GDP estimate every five years. PASOK again failed to live up, hence the task was passed on to the New Democracy successors. If Greece gets to pay retroactively, that will cover the 1995-2003 period when PASOK was in power. PASOK’s spinmeisters shy away from these facts, a stance that reflects the watered-down morals of the 2000-2004 period.