Greek PM: Greece will not ask for financial aid from anybody

Greece will not ask for financial aid from anybody, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said during a cabinet meeting on the new tax bill here on Thursday.

"We are willing to find the solution on our own," Papandreou stressed upon his return from Brussels earlier in the day, adding that Athens still expects though a stronger message of political support by other European partners at the EU summit on March 25.

The Greek premier repeated that "what Greece is asking for is to be able to borrow on the same conditions as other countries, so that Greek peoples' sacrifices will not be wasted due to high interest rates."

Reassuring Greek citizens that their sacrifices will lead to an exit from the economic crisis, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou presented in the cabinet meeting and the parliament earlier on Thursday the basic guidelines of the new tax bill.

The bill aims at the fair redistribution of wealth in Greece through a fight against tax evasion which will help cut budget deficit.

Papaconstantinou said that the new reform of the taxation system represents "a big revolution" for Greece, since "it brings an end to unreasonable privileges of minorities against the majority."

The main principles of the tax bill include a tax rate of 45 percent to incomes above 100,000 euros per year, a tax exemption for people with an annual income of less than 12,000 euros and lower tax rates for tax payers of low and middle classes.

According to the new bill a 45 percent tax rate will be applied to dividends and a tax rate ranging from 0.1- 2 percent on large real estate holdings worth more than 400,000 euros.

The income of the Greek Orthodox Church will be taxed by 20 percent and offshore companies will have to pay a 15 percent tax for real estates in Greece.

The socialist government stressed that they are willing to hear the objections and suggestions of the other political parties, trade unions, representatives of the business world and citizens in the following days.

Demonstrations and strikes have escalated during the past two months, as many Greeks oppose to the measures proposed, even though they agree that measures should be taken to solve the economic woes of Greece.

Taxi drivers called a 24-hour strike on Thursday, the fourth this year, and held a march outside the parliament building at noon protesting the tax bill, as the Finance Minister addressed a special committee.

The bill will be put for approval by the cabinet next Tuesday and then it will be tabled in parliament for vote, where the ruling PASOK party holds a wide majority.

[Source: Xinhua, Athens, 19Mar10]

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