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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 15-02-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Government's legislative priorities
  • [02] FinMin Varoufakis: It is part of our patriotic duty to pay our taxes

  • [01] Government's legislative priorities

    ANA - MPA -- The first draft bill to be tabled by the SYRIZA government will relate to the humanitarian crisis in Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said at a cabinet meeting on Friday evening.

    In his address, Tsipras expressed his satisfaction over the required ratification by EU parliaments of the agreement Greece reached with its creditors, which he said wrapped up a first round of laborious and tough negotiations. "Our European partners were forced to accept something that seemed taboo up to now, that the memorandums and the policies implemented in Greece over the last five years were not simply socially catastrophic but financially ineffective as well," he said.

      The government, he added, had the obligation to begin a series of sweeping reforms that were needed by Greek society, in order to fight tax evasion, deal effectively with corruption, overhaul the public sector, restart the real economy and deal with the humanitarian crisis. 

      The first bill will be introduced early this coming week. It will provide free electricity and foodstuff to 300,000 Greek families, he said; it will introduce a housing programme for 30,000 people and call for a restriction in the number of evictions, which reached a high during the five years of the bailout memorandum.

      It will also include a provision to relieve 3.7 million taxpayers, including small and medium-sized enterprises, that came to owe up to 5,000 euros each without any hopes of repayment and with repercussions that destroy their lives.

      The next bill will relate to non-performing loans to the state. It will include a clause relating to outstanding payments to insurance funds and will lift laws leading to the arrest and jailing of taxpayers who owe up to 50,000 euros to the state. The bill will also restore the status of reports by the finance ministry's financial crimes squad (SDOE), allowing for immediate action to be taken on tax evasion suspicion cases. 

    The prime minister also said that it is the first time that all audit material accumulated over the years, including the so-called Lagarde list of large Greek bank deposits abroad and cases from the unit processing funds from criminal activities, had been consolidated and would help in the pursuit of tax evaders.

    The primary home of families ("first home") will be protected by a regulation to be filed this coming week that "will put an end to the anxiety of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, workers and pensioners who are in danger of losing their home," over real estate taxes he said. This will be an emergency regulation and will affect only homes whose official value does not exceed 300,000 euros.

    On March 5, Tsipras said, the bill on ERT (the former state broadcaster shut down by the Samaras government in June 2013) will be tabled. It will reinstitute the broadcaster (which is now replaced by Nerit) with an upgraded programme. This will not burden the state budget, he asserted, and therefore is not part of the ongoing negotiations with the country's creditors.

    "The government must show readiness at every level and in every sector in order to be resolving practical problems on a daily basis and promote continuing reforms that will make life easier for Greek citizens and that will streamline the public sector," he stressed.

    Justifying the decision by Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis to revoke the architectural and electrical engineering licence at the Skouries gold mine in northern Greece's Halkidiki peninsula, Tsipras said the move was required following serious charges and a review was necessary to ensure the company kept the licence obligations. The government wants to defend two priorities it has, the environment and public interest, and will serve the interests of workers and the Greek people with unwavering consistency, he added.

    Finally, the premier said that in the following week the government would table a proposal for the drawing up of a committee to investigate the memorandums, the conditions under which they were accepted and the political liability of everyone who contributed to the country's bankruptcy and forced it into borrowing.

    The premier called on all ministers to work together with the minister of administrative reform, thus make everything ready faster, and advised cabinet members to work hard in order to honour the people's mandate. "I call on you to use fewer political slogans and do more work: Less talk and more action," he said.  

    [02] FinMin Varoufakis: It is part of our patriotic duty to pay our taxes

    ANA/MPA---The government's priorities for the next four months, presented Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Saturday speaking to SKAI private TV.

    First thing we will do is to 'tackle the humanitarian crisis, then we must solve the financial gap problem and afterwards to start legislating in order to heal the private sector, for example the settlement for overdue debts". He noted that the negotiation for the after June era will start immediately with main targets the debt restructuring, the next decade's primary surpluses and the investments.

    Varoufakis sent a message that those who have and are part of the problem will be hit severely, noting that 'it is part of our patriotic duty to pay our taxes'. He also expressed the hope that an extraordinary tax will not be imposed, however, he did not rule out the possibility, if it is necessary to secure the balanced budgets, clarifying that "if it is imposed (extraordinary tax) I will do it for those that they have to pay".

    "We have committed to have balanced budgets. This means that we want to restore the country's independence and the popular sovereignty within our walls by securing that, never again we will have primary deficits. If I have to impose an extraordinary tax for that, I will do it but to those that have and not to those that do not have to pay", he said.

    The Finance minister reassured that "we do not have a cash flow problem before the Greek citizens. Where we have a problem is to pay the IMF in March but, we are already discussing the matter with our partners".

    "The former governments accepted that even the profit rebates from ECB will take place after the evaluation. We say, do not give them to us give them directly to the IMF. They say that such a mechanism does not exist. I tell them, make it" said Varoufakis who appeared certain that a solution will be found.

    He said that the tax free income band will return gradually to 12,000 euros, saying that he feels shame that there are poor Greeks that pay tax from the first euro of their income.

    Regarding the VAT he ruled out increases on tourism, medicines, books and food. "We will find a product, somewhere a balance will exist" said Varoufakis.

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