Business World

Sunday 17 December 2017

Greece unable to collect €12.6bn fines due to lack of staff

Greece's tax collection mechanism has only managed to take in €630m Photo: Reuters
Greece's tax collection mechanism has only managed to take in €630m Photo: Reuters

Andrew Trotman

THE Greek government has been unable to collect €12.6bn in court-ordered tax fines because it has cut too many staff.









The figure amounts to 6.2pc of the debt-stricken country's GDP, Ekathimerini reported, citing data posted on the website of the Finance Ministry’s General Secretariat of Information Systems.



The report comes as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras today presents his economic plans for a country mired in a fifth year of recession despite two international bailouts and a raft of reforms.



As Greece struggles with an unemployment rate of 22.6pc, the country's tax collection mechanism has only managed to take in €630m - 4.77pc of the total €13.2bn fines - due to being understaffed and the absence of electronic applications.



The court orders came about after some taxpayers disputed the fines imposed by the mechanism.



There are currently more than 180,000 outstanding tax cases in the Greek courts. But while Athens had intended to have 50pc of the pending cases heard by last month and 80pc by the end of December, ministry data indicate that only 2.1pc cases made it to court in the first half of the year, Ekathimerini claimed.



Greece is keen to bolster its finances as was forced to take a €130bn bailout package, and is expected to tap the ESM and EFSF emergency funds to help its banks.



As a result, Mr Samaras is today set to announce an acceleration of Greece's privatisation drive, while simultaneously promising the population that more redundancies and pay cuts are off the table.



When privatisations of ports, airports, former Olympic sites and utilities began in 2010, hopes were that they would raise €50bn, but now the government expects just €15bn by 2015.



On Thursday, Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos, who is part of the ruling coalition, called for a three-year extension to the bailout programme on the same day that Mr Samaras met with visiting EU-IMF debt inspectors.



Greece's new finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, also admitted that the country is "off-track" to meet the conditions of its bailout agreements.



The country will run out of cash within weeks if it fails to secure the next €31.5bn instalment of bailout funds.

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