ATHENS – After burying citizens with pay cuts, tax hikes, new taxes and lowering the tax-exemption ceiling, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA wants to give them 10 years to pay, but the country’s international creditors are balking.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who reneged on anti-austerity promises and imposed an avalanche of tax hikes that has led to more tax evasion and lower-than-expected revenues as people scramble to find ways to hide their income and cheat the government, many unable to pay what they owe.
With his popularity plummeting, Tsipras is trying to mollify angry voters but the 10-year scheme isn’t sitting well with the lenders, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and the Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The lenders are said to be fearful giving taxpayers a longer time to repay means it’s more likely many won’t, especially if taxes keep being hiked, creating a vicious circle.
The plan will be presented to envoys from the Troika who will be making their first visit to Athens after the Aug. 20 end of three bailouts of 326 billion euros ($379.65 billion).
Tsipras is set to act unilaterally and give handouts in a bid to restore his popularity that plummeted when he broke promises to help workers, pensioners and the poor, but the lenders warned that could jeopardize a debt relief deal giving Greece until 2060 to repay the loans.