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Asking for a cut in pensions is ludicrous having regard to the already low level of Greek pension. A cut in the number of pensioners, spread over a few years, is however is absolutely necessary if Greece is to end up as anything but a basket case. The number of uncivil servants employed by central government, local authorities and other government bodies amounts for 20% of the working population – a large percentage of these do nothing for much of their working life. Greeks have, for decades, been able to buy a job in the civil service by promising their vote to a particular candidate. For a really good job you promise not only your own vote but that of you parents grandparents, uncles and aunts, wife and grown up children. The scope for reducing the size of the civil service and hence, that of the pension bill is enormous.
The rich do not pay tax. They should. Of t e 2,000 richest Greeks on the infamous Lagarde list not one has been prosecuted, few if any have even been subjected to a tax claim and yet these are all millionaires who smuggled huge amounts of untaxed earnings out of the country – a number with the invaluable help of HSBC. To add insult to injury the previous government conveniently lost Mme Lagardes list and it has never been found. The fact that the names of many of those on the list were friends of the previous government ( and the one before that) is of course irrelevant.
Most tax money ends up in the pockets of politicians and their friends. This is not even an open secret, it is part of the Greek way of governing the country and its regions. That is why hard working businessmen, large and small, do not pay their taxes. Why should they when all that will be produced from it is another new villa or another new yacht for a sleazy politician or his family. Tax officials are corrupt and prey on the general population. Your tax demand will often be double what it should be,so that you friendly tax collector can for contents of a brown envelope, reduce it to the figure which it should have been in the first place.
The VAT offices are rife with corruption. No self respecting businessman is without a spy in the local VAT office who can warn him of impending raids or other enforcement action. The real books of the business can then disappear for a day or two until the danger has past.
Greece only got its membership of the Eurozone because its then government produced a false set of accounts, rather than the real ones and the idiots in Brussels were too clueless to be able to see that these were, like most other Greek accounts, as bent as a fiddlers elbow.
And finally there is the Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, where every priest is a civil servant whose salary is paid by the government, as is his pension. The Greek Orthodox Church has immense wealth and could probably afford to
pay off the Greek National Debt, without noticing it. Despite its wealth the church pays not a cent in tax. That really does give meaning to being part of the establishment.To suggest that it should pay tax is regarded officially as being akin to sacrilege. It collects from the poor and distributes most to the Churches own funds. Its hierarchy is rife with corruption – just like the wealthy shipowners who not know what the word “tax” means.
There is plenty for the Eurocrats to go for – I wonder why they have been so reluctant.
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