ATHENS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Greece outlined on Tuesday its public sector incomes policy and a tax reform bill, as part of an EU-endorsed plan to increase state revenues and reduce its huge deficit.
The following are comments by Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou at a press conference:
“The total benefit of our incomes policy will be around 800 million euros.
“EU partners and markets will closely monitor the implementation of our fiscal plan, I believe that the response will be positive. The measures that we have announced are becoming action”
“The time has come for major changes, the country can’t afford to wait any longer”
“From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards”
“With the new tax scale, there is a shift of the burden from low and middle income to high incomes.
“There’s tax relief for incomes up to 40,000 (euros)”
“Taxable income based on the new scales will include capital gains from the short-term trading of stocks”
“The income policy frame and the tax reform are part of the government’s wider effort to clean up fiscal finances ... and open new roads for growth. We all know the difficult situation the country is in, we all know the government has submitted to the European Commission a stability and growth plan.
“We all know that the public sector wage policy is full of injustices ... which have been formed by adding up various allowances without a central direction.
“Everyone needs to contribute clearly to the big effort to save our economy. It is necessary to contain the cost of wages and (have) a just distribution of the burden between workers.”
“Every autonomous taxation ... for special professions, like engineers, architects, taxis, gas station owners and kiosks is abolished”
“Deposits in banks outside Greece are exempted from audits of their origin if they are repatriated within six months of the passing of the tax bill and are taxed with a 5 percent rate”
“Public sector pensions will increase by 1.5 percent, except those above 2,000 euros a month”
“We need to contain the public wage bill and fairly share out the burden”.
“The wage cuts will begin from 18 euros a month, reaching 345 euros a month for court officials. In percentages, it will be between 1 and 5.5 percent”
“The impact on low-income earners will be mitigated by lower taxes on middle and low incomes”
“The public sector wage income bill increased by 88 percent since 2001, far above the GDP increase”
“Income policy and the tax changes are in the framework of cleaning up public finances.
“There will be no wage increase for the prime minister and ministers and their allowances will be cut by 10 percent.”
“Wages of board members in unlisted state companies will fall by 50 percent”
“The budget bill for allowances and compensations will be cut by 10 percent”
Reporting by the Athens bureau