Frantic to avoid imposing more austerity measures after vowing not to do so, the Greek government has told its international lenders that it can bring in 2.2 billion euros ($2.94 billion) in revenues by going after tax cheats – which it hasn’t done – and unspecified reforms in the essentially-broke social security system. No further details were available.
Envoys from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) have been pressing the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader, and his coalition partner, PASOK Socialist chief Evangelos Venizelos to fill a looming hole in the 2014 budget with more cuts or to find enough revenues to fill the gap.
The government had previously acknowledged, however, that it must find another 700 million euros in revenues next year to avoid making more cuts that Samaras swore that he would never, ever again do. He is frantic not to have to make cuts totaling 2.9 billion euros, fearing social unrest could unravel what he calls Greece’s “success story,” although there is record unemployment and 20 percent of the population in poverty.
Unless Greece can find the money during a crushing economic crisis, it could face imposing more pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions to go along with firing as many as 40,000 public workers over the next two years. The Troika said the government has woefully failed to go after tax cheats and there still hasn’t been a single major prosecution.
A list of 2,062 Greeks with $1.95 billion in secret Swiss bank accounts, which the government has had for three years, has largely been ignored and not vetted for tax evaders/.
Troika envoys are to meet with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Nov. 10 when they are expected to offer their assessment of fiscal data given to them by the government.
Another political hot potato issue – the overhaul of Greece’s civil service – was the focus of talks between Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Troika and he reportedly asked them for more time to put 25,000 workers on a so-called mobility scheme list, which labor unions said is a disguise to fire them.
He is also said to have asked for staff who lose their jobs as part of a restructuring of Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS) to be counted off from the 4,000 layoffs the government must make by the end of the year. Mitsotakis, who described the meeting with the Troika as “good and productive,” is to meet with them again on Nov. 11.