Greek government unveils plan against tax evasion

09:37, May 03, 2011      

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Greek Minister of Finance Yeoryios Papakonstandinou speaks during a presentation of the plan to fight tax evasion in Athens, Greece, on May 2, 2011. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The Greek government unveiled on Monday a three-year national strategy plan against tax evasion, aiming to raise at least 11.8 billion euros (17.48 billion U.S. dollars) by 2014.

Noting that wide-spread tax evasion in Greece is a "crime against the country which still has not been solved," Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed during a press conference that over the past year and a half major steps have been taken.

The fight against tax evasion is a significant challenge in the overall national effort launched last year to fix the debt-ridden country's finances, said Papaconstantinou, surrounded by the Ministers of Regional Development and Competitiveness, Justice and Citizen Protection who join the ambitious campaign.

Based on a series of surveys, black economy accounts to 25-37 percent of the Greek national economy and tax evasion costs Greece up to 15 billion euros (22.2 billion dollars) on an annual basis.

According to the measures announced Monday, the government aims to restructure tax offices across the country, address corruption, and better use new technologies to track down tax dodgers within the country and abroad through a thorough review of deposits in foreign banks.

The whole plan will be presented to EU- International Monetary Fund (IMF) auditors who are expected in Athens in the coming days to discuss with the Greek government the next steps of the Stability and Reform plan to lead Greece out of the debt crisis.

Last May Athens was granted a multi-billion aid package by EU and IMF to escape default and overcome the crisis in exchange of drastic austerity measures and structural reforms, aiming to lower the budget deficit from 15.6 of GDP in 2009 to less than three percent by 2014.

Limited revenues collection is a threat to the success of the plan so far, fuelling speculation of an eventual default or Greek debt restructure.

"There will be no restructure, nor haircut," stressed Papaconstantinou once again on Monday, asked to comment on foreign media reports, adding that Greece prefers an extension of the repayment period of the aid secured by EU and IMF instead, according to the initial decision made this March by the European Council.

Source: Xinhua

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