Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if politicians have their heads screwed on or whether they can’t (or won’t) see the wood for the trees. Apart from selling Greece lock, stock, and barrel and at rock-bottom prices, consider this scenario: I am a Greek civil servant of some years standing. I have a wife and children to support. My salary has been cut as has my pension or I have been made redundant. I now have barely enough to put food on the table as the cost of living has rocketed and one does not even dare mention the price of petrol. Now the government is putting a tax on the house in which we live. Just where, oh, where, do they think the money is going to come from? And, in case anyone thinks they’re not going to have to pay up, the tax is to be added to the electricity bill which has already in the last few years doubled in price.

I am the owner of a small once popular taverna. It was always busy, Greeks love food and dining out, but now people with less to spend, are not eating out that much any more. If it gets worse I will have to close.

I own a small shop that used to do a roaring business but people are tightening the purse strings, business has dropped off alarmingly and I will soon have to put up the shutters. You can see it happening with premises empty all the way down the road and the ‘For Rent’ signs everywhere. These empty shops and work places are earning no money for their owners who might have relied on that rental income so where are they going to find the money to pay for a property tax? There are too many like me and gradually the tax base is being eroded. Also the Greek tax system is so bizarre there simply is no incentive to start a new business.

For example and this is a true story – I am a foreigner who thought it would be a good idea to buy a small hotel and advertise it in my home country and so attract the tourists Greece depends on so badly. Before I have even started the tax authorities are demanding 4000 euros. Why? And there is no arguing or reasoning with the Greek taxman. He is implacable. His word is law even though the system seems to be a shambles.

Meanwhile the fat cats so I am informed, I don’t know how true it is but it wouldn’t surprise me, have like rats deserted the sinking ship and fled elsewhere taking their money with them. A case of ‘I’m all right, Jack and to hell with everybody else.’

And one has to ask oneself, if people’s homes are to be taxed, why is there no tax on luxuries like swish yachts of which there are many? And why, when it is so fabulously rich and the biggest landowner is the church free of the tax burden? God has quite enough to be getting on with thank you very much, He won’t mind his servants giving a few euro all in a good cause.

At lease one Greek has voiced his criticisms. Constantine Michalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, “the mixture of economic policy which is currently being applied to the Greek economy is completely in the wrong direction. It will lead to a further, and even deeper, recession in 2012" Or, as they say, things are going to get worse before they get better.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

Surely the taxman is also a civil servant. His pay will be taken from the taxes first. I've no sympathy for civil servants. They always get by. The Roman empire fell when the taxes were all being absorbed to keep the civil service and the army's pay got further and further in arrears.
The average age for a Greek male to retire with a pension is reputedly 58.
The legal age in Germany is 65, and that is to be raised to 67 to bail out Greece. No wonder the Germans are murmuring like innumerable bees.