Greece unveils raft of measures to shore up finances
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday unveiled a slew of measures to help Greece plug a 5.5 billion euro hole in an EU-IMF austerity plan and said Greek banks were willing to take part in a debt rollover.
Venizelos said that talks were still ongoing with an EU-IMF delegation to finalize a new austerity program but the government had agreed to several steps to boost revenues, including lowering the minimum threshold for income tax to 8,000 euros a year from its current level of 12,000 euros.
"The basic issue of the day is to finalize the program," Venizelos told a news conference. "Our basic aim is to regain our credibility."
Greece has agreed to levy a one-off solidarity tax ranging between 1 and 5 percent depending on income, to slightly increase tax on heating fuel, and impose a minimum tax on the self-employed, who are widely regarded as some of the country's most flagrant tax evaders.
Asked about European efforts to involve the private sector in a new bailout program for Greece, Venizelos said: "It's obvious that domestic holders of Greek bonds -- which means banks and pension funds -- are willing and will take part in this process."
The minister said that public office holders and members of parliament would pay the highest rate of the solidarity tax.
"We have to suffer first the biggest cut. This is our moral duty," he said.
[Source: Reuters, Athens, 23Jun11]
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