ATHENS – Coupled with big losses for farmers over a Russian food embargo on the West, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is trying to deal with dissident ruling parties lawmakers upset over a botched new property tax.
The unified so-called ENFIA, which folded in what was supposed to be a temporary heavy surcharged imposed by a former PASOK Socialist Adminstration – now partners with Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives – was calculcated on flawed and outdated data, resulting in astronomical bills.
Until it’s corrected the government will give taxpayers more time to cough up the euros, but that may force them to make heavy payments because wrong information was used.
And while property values have plummeted during a crushing economic crisis worsened by austerity measures imposed on the orders of international lenders, the government has used higher assessments – coupled with big tax increases – to send out bills prohibitive in many cases.
Taxpayers – including farmers – are furious over the bills and many are among the traditional bases of New Democracy and PASOK whose backing of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings has seen the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) take the lead in polls.
Former New Democracy minister Evripidis Stylianidis said the new tax is “a blow against one of the main pillars of the capitalist system, which is the right to property” and blasted the Foreign Ministry’s listless approach to the Russian food ban.
PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos – who, as finance minister in the previous government imposed the hated “Haratsi” and put it in utility bills under threat of having power turned off for non-payment – now is backing away from the ENFIA even though he is Samaras’ Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister.
Complicating Samaras’ problem is that the tax is part of the agenda of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) that put up 240 billion euros in two bailouts and demanded reforms in return.
Greek and Troika officials will meet in Paris – the moving was moved from Athens to avoid protesters – early in September to set the groundwork for a new review of Greece’s failed attempt to complete 600 unfinished actions before the lender’s envoys come back to Greece later that month.