Greece’s public debt increased to 185% of GDP in 2014, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said in a press briefing on Wednesday, presenting figures from the state’s General Accounting Office.
He expressed his concern over the debt’s upward trend, stressing that it is unsustainable and that “we must relieve it.” The Minister also cited a Levy Institute study forecasting that the Greek sovereign debt will rise to 205% of GDP in 2015. While clarifying that he does not adopt its findings, Mardas said that he is “carefully monitoring” its predictions to see if the conclusions are true or false.
In terms of public finances, Mardas referred to special wage scales in the public sector that he said created distortions and had to be tackled. He announced, however, that a productivity bonus will be given to tax office employees based on criteria that are to be decided and will be linked to the number of cases they process and the amount of revenue they certify as due.
The Greek Minister also repeated his estimate that arresting those engaged in illegal fuel trading, which he said is a government priority, could generate 1.5 billion euros in revenue on an annual basis, while a further 800 million euros might be raised by cracking down on contraband cigarette sales.
He announced that he is currently proceeding to draw up cost estimates regarding the measures announced by Ministers.
A Finance Ministry announcement issued later on Wednesday clarified that the proposed bonuses on fines will only be given to tax office staff for uncovering cases of illegal fuel sales and smuggling. The announcement said that this proposal had been put forward in a 2011 report on fuel adulteration and illegal sales, and concerned only fines for illegal fuel, not the sum of tax office staff.