IMF Says Greek Elite Still Protected



The IMF's man in Athens, Poul Thomsen
IMF’s envoy  Poul Thomsen

After an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report found that Greece was making progress in overhauling its public finances and competitiveness, the government was left to explain why there’s been little change in public administration and the failure to go after tax cheats.

Writing at the end of a review of the Greek fiscal adjustment program, IMF staff said that Greece’s consolidation had been “exceptional by any international comparison” and that the country had achieved “a significant dent in its competitiveness gap.”

However, they also highlighted the slow pace of change in terms of tax collection and the public administration. “Very little progress has been made in tackling Greece’s notorious tax evasion,” the IMF said in a statement. “The rich and self-employed are simply not paying their fair share,” inspectors said, despite repeated promises by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras that he would make them do so.

The officials added that labor market reforms had “only to a very limited degree been reflected in lower prices” due to barriers to competition. They also said that “the over-staffed public sector has been spared (job losses,) because of a taboo against dismissals” while the private sector has a record 27.2 percent unemployment rate caused by rounds of pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions.

The Washington-based organization called on the coalition, led by Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and including the PASOK Socialists and tiny Democratic Left (DIMAR) to deliver “deeper political commitment to tax administration reform” and to carry out some “mandatory redundancies” in the civil service rather than relying on “voluntary attrition.”

The government said it will meet demands from the Troika of the European Union-IMF-European Central Bank to fire 15,000 workers over the next two years – but will hire 15,000 people in their place, keeping a New Democracy-PASOK tradition of hiring workers in return for votes and relying on retirements to bring down the overall numbers of workers.

The IMF said there was “no more room for tax increases or major cuts in discretionary spending.” It also voiced its opposition to “attempts to artificially engineer growth” through development banks, tax-free zones and subsidies targeted at specific sectors. This appears to be contrary to the government’s hopes of reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the food service sector.

The report identified Greece public debt as being too high and said that its Eurozone partners will need to live up to their commitment to provide “additional relief if needed.” So far, the Eurozone has not identified what this might be and all talk of an official sector debt restructuring has been rebuffed.

The IMF’s statement was issued a couple of days after Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told a German newspaper that Greece had overcome the worst of the crisis.


6 COMMENTS

  1. Yes Greek elite are still protected by the law…They supply our corrupt politicians with funds needed to keep them in their seats to protect the elite and for corruption to thrive…

  2. This is not true. I think I paid my taxes 20 years ago. This was enough to feed a whole family for a year in Ethiopia. I have done my part so now it’s time for fellow citizens of Greece to dig deep into their pockets and find some spare change to help bailout our glorious country. We have history!

    I am struggling financially. My poor Marianna couldn’t get cosmetic surgery on her jaw nor purchase her Hermes Birkin bag one week. We Greeks are a family and at times like this, lets not point the finger and unite.

  3. It took them 3 years to figure this out?
    They could have asked any Greek citizen on the street as to what’s going on. Everyone in Greece knows this.
    They’ll just keep lending Greece money, and Greece will just keep paying and paying and paying and paying and paying and paying……Who makes a profit here?
    oh yeah – right – the IMF! Silly me. I wonder how juicy Samaras pension will be? He’ll have to get tips first from Papandreou.
    What happened to the Lagarde list? Isn’t there also a law that removes any crimes committed after 5 years? I guess that’s why they’re dragging their feet.
    Corruption at it’s finest.

  4. What! … Hello… Good morning America….???
    Alex hasn’t arrived yet to attack Andy Dabilis for repeating this fact and defend these lies…???

  5. If the phony Coalition Government of Liars and Thieves had any intention of making the elites pay their fair share of the tax and bailout burdens, they would have published the Legarde List, arrested Venizelos for fraud for hiding it 2 years and then immediately gone after 2,000 people hiding their money in Swiss banks on the list… But ND, PASOK and the “old traitor fool” Mr. Kouvelis chose to remain silent on the issue…. What about the 250 million in fraudlent bank loans given free to ND & PASOK with no attempt by them to pay it back??
    Those are High Crimes & Theft against the State and Greek People and they should all be jailed for Fraud and Treason!

  6. The Hellenes of the Diaspora re consistently bombarded with requests to help BUT BUT BUT it is facts such as this that bloody well annoy us. We will help but the crooks must be dealt with and NOW, not in 1000 years time please. Sure we have problems too and everywhere you look the wealthy pay next to no real tax. But in Ellada we need to see if even one filthy rich person is also a patriot.

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