Greeks Who Can’t Pay State Debts Get More Time to Not Pay

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS – Buried by eight years of brutal austerity measures and tax hikes, Greeks who can’t pay debts to the state will get more time to try to pay even if many are struggling to do so as tax cheats and the wealthy who hide money in foreign bank accounts are escaping.

The Finance Ministry is drawing up plans to offer them 10 years to pay what they owe although it wasn’t reported how that would work if they keep accumulating more state bills they can’t pay after big pay cuts, slashed pensions and worker firings leaving many in poverty.

Salary workers, pensioners, unemployed people, professionals with invoice books (blokakia) and enterprises that have closed their books will be able to pay their dues in up to 120 installments according to the plan, said Kathimerini.

That includes groups who’ve complained that an avalanche of fees and tax hikes imposed by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who reneged on anti-austerity promises is taking close to 70 percent of their income as he has not, as promised, put a 75 percent tax on the rich.

Businesses that are sustainable but could not enter an out-of-court arrangement because they did not fulfill the necessary condition of producing at least one year of profits will also qualify, the report said although there was no word on whether the country’s international creditors, who have balked at giving people time to pay, would go along.

A senior ministry official who wasn’t named by the paper said the size of each installment hasn’t been decided although the new scheme could be in effect by the end of the year and that applicants need to pay all of this year’s obligations or at least settle them by the time they enter the program that covers debts through the end of 2017.

The plan will include allegedly strict income and property criteria aimed at getting the okay of the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) that in the summer of 2015 put up a third rescue package, this one for 86 billion euros ($98.93 billion) that Tsipras sought and accepted after saying he would do neither because it came with more crushing measures he swore to reject then agreed to implement.

The concerns were that people would start slip-sliding away from paying over such a long period and that debtors who regularly resort to settlement plans should not be included.