Pro­gram eyes taxes, pen­sions

Mea­sures aimed at rais­ing 6.4 bil­lion eu­ros de­bated by the Cabi­net as rifts ap­pear be­tween min­is­ters

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

The gov­ern­ment’s midterm fis­cal pro­gram, which was dis­cussed yes­ter­day dur­ing a tense cabi­net meet­ing and is to be de­bated fur­ther to­day be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou and his po­lit­i­cal ri­vals, aims to raise 6.4 bil­lion eu­ros through the im­po­si­tion of ad­di­tional di­rect and in­di­rect taxes, it emerged yes­ter­day. Of these, 4.8 bil­lion eu­ros’ worth have been ap­proved by the Cabi­net, while the re­main­der are still un­der dis­cus­sion.

Among the mea­sures to be im­ple­mented, as- sum­ing they are voted through Par­lia­ment later this week, is the trans­fer of sev­eral goods and ser­vices from the medium 13 per­cent val­ueadded tax (VAT) bracket to the higher 23 per­cent bracket as well as the abo­li­tion of tax breaks, the im­po­si­tion of taxes on nat­u­ral gas and on soft drinks and an in­crease in road tax.

Other re­forms fore­see the in­tro­duc­tion of a levy on high pen­sions ex­ceed­ing 1,700 eu­ros per month.

Also pri­vate firms will also be obliged to pay an ad­di­tional 1 per­cent in so­cial se­cu­rity con­tri­bu­tions with the aim of boost­ing un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits.

Many mea­sures re­mained sub­ject to ap­proval yes­ter­day at the end of a cabi­net meet­ing in which in­ter­nal rifts that have been fes­ter­ing within PASOK came to the sur­face.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the most ve­he­ment crit­i­cism was voiced by De­fense Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los, who re­port­edly ac­cused Fi­nance Min­is­ter Gior­gos Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou of “ar­ro­gance” in his stance op­po­site the rest of the Cabi­net. Venize­los al­legedly ac­cused Pa­pa­con­stanti­nou, who has spear­headed the draft­ing of the gov­ern­ment’s midterm pro­gram, of con­ceal­ing de­tails from the rest of the Cabi­net and fail­ing to pro­vide an­swers on an am­bi­tious pri­va­ti­za­tion drive. On emerg­ing from the cabi­net meet­ing yes­ter­day, Venize­los sought to play down the re­ported dis­pute, telling re­porters that he had been re­fer­ring to “of­fi­cials and agen­cies of the min­istry” when he had spo­ken of ar­ro­gant be­hav­ior.

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