Thursday, June 5, 2014

Greece getting set to explode back into the news - in a negative fashion ? June 5 - 6 , 2014 --- Greek FinMin imposes ‘special tax’ for property owners living in their own home ........... Haris Theocharis, the Troika-supported general secretary of Greece’s public revenues was forced to resign following press leaks about "government discontent" at his handling of tax issues - most notably the retroactive taxation of gains on Greek government bonds. AsKeepTalkingGreece notes, Theocharis was a hardliner, a devoted supporter of the loan agreements and their implementation and kept loading the Greek taxpayers with new burdens and exorbitant fines. However, the resignation of the country's top tax-collector is "a cause of serious concern," according to EU spokespersons ......... .... Greek Government unexpectedly closed the Parliament for summer break

EU Warns Greece Is "A Cause Of Serious Concern" As Top Tax-Collector Resigns

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Haris Theocharis, the Troika-supported general secretary of Greece’s public revenues was forced to resign following press leaks about "government discontent" at his handling of tax issues - most notably the retroactive taxation of gains on Greek government bonds. AsKeepTalkingGreece notes, Theocharis was a hardliner, a devoted supporter of the loan agreements and their implementation and kept loading the Greek taxpayers with new burdens and exorbitant fines. However, the resignation of the country's top tax-collector is "a cause of serious concern," according to EU spokespersons.

Haris Theocharis, general secretary of Greece’ public revenues was forced to resign. Officially, Theocharis submitted his resignation “for personal reasons”. Unofficially, he was forced to resign and thus before the upcoming government reshuffle aiming to build a “social policy profile” around Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Haris Theocharis submitted his resignation to  Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras during a marathon meeting the two men held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday. During the last days, leakages to the press were speaking of “government discontent about Theocharis”, practically announcing his removal.

“The rumors about the removal of Mr Theocharis were sparked by an article in daily KAthirmerini, according to which, the prime minister’s office  was discontent about Theocharis’ handling of tax issues, especially during the time before the EU elections. The general secretary had apparently issued a circular for the retrospective taxation of foreign investors who had bought Greek bonds which resulted in climbing of the spreads, so the government arguments.”

In a statement on Thursday, Stournaras praised Theocharis’ efforts to support the tax reforms and contribution to the objectives of the government and added:

“Most important, he did all this by showing consistent results , consistently exceeding all set targets, something that was reflecting in the positive budget results.”

Theocharis was a hardliner, adevoted supporter of the loan agreements and their implementation and kept loading the Greek taxpayers with new burdens and exorbitant fines.

Was Stournaras the “tzar” of the Greek Economy, Theocharis was the official “Tax Collector” who had no scruple to impose astronomical fines even to those who had mistakes in their tax declarations.

He was also supposed to receive bonus according to his target achievements, although this was officially dismissed recently and his monthly salary was given as 4,650 euro gross.

Despite his over the average monthly wage, Theocharis was bold enough to claim in front of angry property owners, that he too could not pay the emergency property taxes.

“During his appearance at the congress of  the Association of Property Owners, a number of people started to shout and protest about the many different taxes imposed at properties.

“I have no money to pay property taxes,” shouted someone from the audience.

An obviously stunned general secretary claimed “Me neither!”

Theocharis was appointed to the office of General Secretary of Public Revenues in January 2013 and for a period of five years, apparently in order to be able operate without the influence of this or that Greek government that has an average survival time of 2-3 years.

Theocahris had to resign – as if he was not implementing the Stournaras-Greek -Government economic policies, as if he did not contribute to the famous “primary surplus”. But now it is time for the center-right populism of Nea Dimokratia and PASOK to rise ahead of possible early elections.
According to Greek media, Greece’s lenders, the Troika, did not agree with the removal of Theocharis, whom they considered as successful.
Revenue administration plays a key role in the reform program and this development is “a cause of serious concern,” EU spokesman Simon O’Connorsays in e-mailed statement, commenting on resignation of Greek Revenue Chief Haris Theoharis earlier today.
Says “will continue to closely monitor the Greek government’s commitment to a more autonomous revenue administration, as well as commitments to establish rigorous, transparent and merit based processes for the appointment of senior managers in the Greek public sector”
It seems the recent EU elections fallout is beginning...


Keep Talking Greece ....






6
JUN

Greek FinMin imposes ‘special tax’ for property owners living in their own home

Posted by  in Economy
The book of the new Income Tax Law is clear: income from properties is been considered also the”imputed income” from the use of own property or the use of property given from parents to children to live in free of charge.
According to daily “Eleftheros Typos” the tax on non-existing income will be calculated based on the property value with a multiplicator of 3%.
Taxpayers living in their own properties will be burden with an additional property tax of 11%-13% for making use of their own homes.
Exceptions may be considered for properties below 200 square meters.
The new Tax Code has been in effect as of 1.1.2014.
Daily Imerisia sheds more light into the tricky issue:
The income from own use or from the free of charge concede is presumed to consist of three percent (3%) of the assessed value of the propertyException from the taxation of the imputed income of the previous section concerns the free of charge concede for property up to 200 sq meter to be used as main residence by children or parents.”
In clear words: property owners living in their own homes will be called to pay a “living in own home tax”, while exempted from this fictitious income will be the fictitious income if the property is up to 200 sq meters and given for free to children or parents to live in.
The tax will be 10% to fictitious property income up to 12,000 euro and 33% for any amount above.
Example:
a property with objective value 200,000 euro has fictitious income 6,000 euro. The owner living in his own home should be asked to pay 600 euro because he lives in his own property.
Non-stop taxes on non-existing incomes
Of course, this new tax is additional to regular and emergency property taxes and are to be unified under one. So far, living in your own property was considered as one of the “presumptuous income criteria”. That is the tax office would calculate, one needs €40 per square meter to maintain a property. If the taxpayer was jobless but a home owner of XY sqm, the tax office would make up a fictitious income for you:  €3,000 per year to cover your needs and €3,000 per year for home maintenance. And ask the relevant tax.
It is not a secret that the Troika, the Greek Finance Ministry and the Greek government consider the “Greek property” as an endless source of revenues. Even if they bring zero income like in the case the owner lives inside.
But the “unified tax” restricts the finance ministry moves to squeeze more taxes from the properties. Therefore they name the additional property tax “imputed income tax from property”.
Mainstream media and many news websites call the whole plan a “gaffe” and try to reassure the shocked property owners that the Finance Ministry is trying to call it off with a new legislation.
absurd
…and you thought Absurd and Surreal were only means of Arts
 HA! They are truly and honestly sick!
PS every time I write about Greece taxing “fictitious income” I can’t help but think of the Irish who rejected the “taxation of deemed income” as against the Constitution. Their Constitution, of course.



6
JUN

Only 8% of Greece’s 1.27million jobless gets unemployment allowance

Posted by  in Society
The majority of Greece’s 1,274,843 jobless receive no unemployment allowance. According Employment Agency (OAED) , only 102,026 jobless received the allowance in April 2014. That is less than one out of ten of the country’s at least 1,274,843 men and women without job.
Although employees pay their social security contributions month-in month out during their entire working life, they are eligible to receive unemployment allowance for only one year, when they lose their job. Long-time jobless are been simply kicked out from the social system.
In Greece’s of austerity loan agreements, the jobless allowance is just 360 euro per month. Not much in a country suffering from recession and deflation.
This morning I saw a middle-aged woman on television saying that she was unemployed for three years and therefore she stopped receiving the allowance since two years.
How do these people come along? With the help of relatives and friends, piling up debts that they will most likely never be able to pay back.
Quiz How many people have got no unemployment allowance in the last 4 years?
ELSTAT Unemployment month March – unemployed in numbers
2009 9.2%   459,957
2010 11.7%  589,021
2011 16.1%  793,769
2012 22.6%  1,095,478
2013 27.2%  1,304,263
2014 26.8%  1,274,843

BTW: Today, ELSTAT issued the unemployment figures for March 2014 as 26.8%.
In comparison February 2014: 29.9% and March 2013: 27.9%
However the ELSTAT noted that in March the counting was based on 2011-census, while the statistics in previous months were based on 2001-census and therefore the figures and rates were not comparable.






4
JUN

Greek Government unexpectedly closed the Parliament for summer break

Posted by  in Politics
It was shortly after 5 in the afternoon and a fully troubled plenary session, when police hanged a Presidential Decree announcing the unexpected closure of the Greek Parliament and the start of the summer sessions. The government decision to close the Parliament as expressed by the Presidential Decree took Greek journalists by surprise. Nobody knew to report about the reasons of closing the Parliament almost a month before the traditional summer break. Greek reporters knew nothing to report and still do not know, as there has been no official explanation announcement neither by the Parliament speaker nor by the Prime Minister’s office, nor by the government and – of course – nor by the President.
Main opposition party left-wing SYRIZA spoke of an arbitrary and “unilateral decision”, while some (journalist Kouloglou in Skai TV) even stressed “the violation of Parliament procedures.”
Scenario 1
Lawmakers of Nea Dimokratia leaked to the press the argument that the Parliament was closed as there were “no statute or other parliamentary proceedings pending.”
However , the reality is different.
Pending are:
  1. debate concerning the Baltakos case. Takis Baltakos (Nea Dimokratia), secretary of the government,  was captured on camera to have secret contacts and friendly chat with Golden Dawn spokesman Kasidiaris.
  2. Kasidiaris was scheduled to appear before the Ethics committee of the Parliament tomorrow Thursday.
  3. Also for tomorrow, Thursday, the cases of  Nea Dimokratia Ministers Yiannis Michelakis (Interior) and Adonis Georgiadis (Health) as well of Vasilis Kaparnaros (ex Independent Greeks, now Independent MP) were scheduled to be discussed. Now all these cases will be discussed next autumn, when the Parliament will return to its plenary sessions.
Traditionally, the Greek Parliament goes into summer break end of June and resumes the full sessions in October.
So what had happened today? Why was the Parliament enforced to interrupt its normal sessions and went into summer break?
Scenario 2
During the summer break, the Parliament works with less lawmakers – so-called “Parliament’s summer sessions” -, the lawmakers receive extra bonuses for working during the summer months and the government can pass legislation with much fewer votes than in “winter sessions” where the 151 majority is needed. In the wake of upcoming crucial bills, the parties – and in our Greek case “the coalition government parties” – can better deal with their lawmakers and have them under control.
The summer sessions of the Parliament will have to deal with important legislation like
  1. the privatization of the so-called “small DEH” (Greek Public Power Company)
  2. the regulation of Greek coastline that has triggered a huge outrage among the society and environmental organizations
  3. cuts in the supplementary pensions
  4. taxes in favor of ‘third parties’ (insurance funds of professional groups)
Scenario 3
Other scenarios claim that the Parliament was closed
  1. as the “ministers refrain from coming to the Parliament and answer lawmakers’ questions due to upcoming government reshuffle”
  2. that the government reshuffle would be smoother as the Parliament will be closed and the disappointed lawmakers will not create troubles during voting.
  3. in order to hinder SYRIZA to request anew a vote of confidence
Scenario 4
According to a fourth unofficial explanation, reason for the closure were the ugly scenes during the defense of Golden Dawn MPs in custody -leader Michaloliakos and MPs Pappas, Lagos – before the voting to lift their immunity and open the way for their trial.
Tension was high on Wednesday, with the GD MPs in custody to use vulgar expressions against the lawmakers of other parties, with Michaloliakos to shout to acting Parliament Speaker “You, shut up” and  make claims that shocked Samaras’ Nea Dimokratia and a crowd of 30 GD relatives and supporters to try to enter the Plenary session.
Video: Golden Dawn protest inside the Parliament.
A Parliament out of control. The “draconian security measures” had apparently let the dragon inside.
Now wonder that all these was too much for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and he decided to avoid further tension and ugly scenes, more claims from Golden Dawn MPs, frustrated Nea Dimokratia and PASOK MPs who did not mutate into ministers and potential rebels during voting of legislation that is important for Greece’s lenders, the Troika.
PS That’s how countries are saved, folks! By closing down the parliaments and send the majority of people’s representatives home – or at the beach. Although it still rains in Athens and summer seems quite far away.
 Official announcement for the early closure of the House not exist, but according to information is the tension caused within the coalition for reforming and the intention to pass all the relevant legislation by the summer courses to avoid any unpleasant surprises .

Contrast SYRIZA the potential to interrupt Wednesday ‘s work session of the House expressed the parliamentary representative of the main opposition party , Panagiotis Lafazanis the Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis .
” If the government wants to close the House , do it only for elections ,” said Panagiotis Lafazanis .He talked for a unilateral move by the government , noting that referred to the autumn pre agenda discussions requested by SYRIZA , but also lawsuits pending in the House Ethics Committee .
The work session of Parliament ended with the decision to waive the immunity of MPs custody of the Golden Dawn Nikos Michaloliakos , Christos Pappas and John Hare .
At the same time , heavy shadows have fallen over the geography of the Prime Minister after the statements Michaloliakos for frequent contact with both C. Mourouti and two ministers not katanomase . For his part , the close associate of Samaras says in a statement :

PS That’s how countries are saved, folks! By closing down the parliaments and send the majority of people’s representatives home – or at the beach. Although it still rains in Athens and summer seems quite far away.



4
JUN

Greek Cabinet “paralyzed” awaiting Government reshuffle

Posted by  in Politics
The ministers have closed their files and opened their laptops. They surf on internet, call journalists closed to Prime Minister Samaras and deputy Prime Minister Venizelos, they read and analyze reshuffle scenarios trying to guess whether they will remain seated on their chairs, climb on new ones or they will be simple sent home.
The longer the government reshuffle delay, the stronger the symptoms of paralysis among the ministers. 
According to Greek media, the government reshuffle, practically announced last week by Samaras, is expected to taker place today, tomorrow, next week…
Media claim for the delay, the difficulty to find the person to replace Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras as PM Samaras want to give the message of “a new era after the loan agreements”. [lol]
But we all need a breath. Therefore: better a paralyzed government than new austerity measures :)

PS Amid the general government inactivity,  eight government ministers felt a short recovery and signed the transfer of Greece’s best assets to Privatization Fund (TAIPED) so they can be sold to private investors. Apparently in the hope to remain in the government…