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"Council of Chiefs" to be summoned to combat tax evasion

16 December 2012 / 14:12:20  GRReporter
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The Ministry of Finance will create a kind of "Council of Chiefs" that will have to initiate the restructuring of tax administration so that it be able to challenge tax evasion. Reportedly, former President of the National Bank, Vasilis Rapanos, was proposed to head this Council. The Government and lenders are aware that opportunities for new cuts have already been exhausted, while, at the same time, tax evasion,  is still at much higher levels than the European average. Commissioner for Tax Policy of the European Union, Algirdas Semeta, said that, if Greece manages to limit tax evasion to the European level, an additional 10 billion euro may be further accumulated.

Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras talked about the outlook for the Greek economy after Eurogroup's decision to grant the sum of 52.5 billion dollars in his first subsequent public statement. The Minister took part in the 8th PanHellenic Congress on Management, Economics and Health Policy entitled Economy and Health in Crisis: Deadlocks and Excesses, which began on Thursday in Athens.

"Eurogroup's decision to grant the sum of 52.5 billion euro puts an end to the existing scenarios for Greece's failure and exit of the Eurozone, and creates conditions for growth and a higher level of employment. Of course, what we have achieved is very important, but it is just the first step. Our generation is creating a bridge for the future survival of our children, because we are answerable for ending up here. The road ahead is still long and arduous," said the Minister of Finance. Stournaras stressed that the country needs to implement everything voted in Parliament. "That is, the two-year programme of financial stabilisation in 2013-2014 amounting to 13.5 billion euro and consisting of a 10.5 billion euro cost reduction and a 3 billion euro growth of revenues. Also, structural measures of the law on improving competitiveness. Implementation of these measures is absolutely necessary for the final exit of the economy from the bankruptcy zone and a Eurozone exit scenario. Thus, we will secure 100% of the necessary stabilisation of both finance and competitiveness, which we had started losing since we joined the Eurozone. These are really hard and painful measures that our generation is obliged to take in order to save future generations, because it is accountable for the decline of the economy."

"Data showing that one in two freelancers declared an annual income for 2011 of up to 5,000 euro are indicative of unfair income taxation and uneven tax burden distribution among workers. I understand that it is impossible that everyone will react in the same way, but since I have the opportunity to speak at a medical congress, I would like to bring to your attention the need for each of us to contribute," added Stournaras.

Regarding credit institutions, Yiannis Stournaras said that "Eurogroup's decision secures the banks' capitalisation, so that they will become permanently stable. With a capital of 16 billion euro, which banks will receive next week, and an additional 7.2 billion euro in January-March, and by raising the index of deposits, which is continuously increasing, the stability of the banking system will be enhanced and its capital needs will be met. Thus, banks will start lending again to businesses."

Speaking of privatisation, the Minister said: "We are accelerating the evaluation of state property, since attracting foreign direct investment starts with privatisation, and this will create new jobs and boost development." He also stressed that "It is my contention that the main benefit of the programme to privatise the Greek economy is not so much the further relief of debt through the sale of property, but rather the impact that investment will have on the real economy, investment which will create new jobs."

The Finance Minister emphasised the role of social factors, stating that "the country cannot take on any new unemployed persons. We have reached the climax, especially in terms of young jobless people. These percentages should be reversed as soon as possible. The central goal of policymakers is to increase employment. Work is not just a factor of production. It directly affects people's lives, their hopes and expectations. We will use all available tools in order to provide every citizen with security and perspective, so that they can improve their lives again."

At the end of his speech, Yiannis Stournaras said: "I do not want to embellish the situation of the Greek society and economy. Many citizens are frustrated, they are experiencing difficulties and do not trust anything or anyone who promises better days. I know that many of our fellow citizens consider it unbelievable when someone talks about development, investment and job creation. However, I want to believe that 2013 will turn the tide and transform things. We have a unique national opportunity to change the situation soon with a plan, will and political consensus. I believe in the potential of our country, its infrastructure, its natural resources and its geo-strategic position."

Tags: Yiannis Stournaras Vasilis Rapanos tax evasion tax reforms
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