Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has asked the Eurozone for more time to implement spending cuts and implement further austerity measures even though a criminal investigation unit discovered that over half of Businesses in tourist areas are not paying VAT.
The Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE) carried out its investigation at popular tourist destinations between July 6th and August 19th and found that a staggering 55% of all businesses were committing tax evasion. Inspectors from the unit carried out 4,067 spot checks in 45 tourist locations and found over 31,237 violations. Top of the list for VAT evasion was Rethymno on Crete where 84% of all businesses checked were caught breaking the law. Most of the Greek islands were found to be in violation with over 70% of businesses in violation. The Greek people don’t seem to want to help to get their nation out of the economic doldrums as the SDOE inspections on the island of Hydra sparked a mini-revolt by locals, who tried to obstruct the arrest of a restaurant owner’s son for failing to issue receipts.
The investigations results will not be of any comfort to Samaras as his opponents in the EU are sure to use this information against him and scoff at his pleas for an extension. Many will blame his government for not enforcing tax collection, a key source of possible income for the battered Greek economy.
Samaras is travelling Europe and meeting leaders in a bid to get Greece the breathing space he believes his country needs. He will also be desperate to prove to Greece’s creditors that his government has done enough to secure the next stage of the bailout fund which is worth €31.5 billion. Failure to secure the money could see Greece default on its debts and leave the Euro altogether. So far the country has received bailout funds topping €230billion since 2010.
Samaras has argued that the country has lost time due to the recent elections that dragged on for far longer than anyone wanted and has said that the cuts should be imposed more gradually in an effort to limit the harm to Greek citizens. Surely the harm has already been inflicted?
He told German newspaper Bild; “Let me be very explicit: we demand no additional money. We stand by our commitments but we have to kick-start growth in order to cut our deficit. All that we want is a little ‘breathing space’ to revive the economy quickly and raise state income.”
Samaras will certainly have a tough time trying to convince the Germans (Greece’s biggest lender) to make any further concessions. German Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle has insisted that the Greeks must press ahead with the terms already agreed and Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under ever increasing pressure from her own government not to give further concessions to the Athens.
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