Hardouvelis Asks For Tax Support

ATHENS – Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis wants opposition lawmakers to back plans to extend a solidarity tax for two more years and give debtors 100 installments to pay.

Hardouvelis, from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives was making an apparent reference to the rival Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) that opposes austerity measures imposed by the government on orders of international lenders, but didn’t get very far.

SYRIZA, which is leading in polls, is expected to support the installment plan but not the extension of the solidarity tax and its 71 lawmakers reportedly will vote present instead of taking a stand.

The tax was introduced in 2011 by then Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, now Deputy Premier/Foreign Minister and head of the PASOK Socialists who are partners in Samaras’ coalition government.

In comments to Skai television, leftist SYRIZA MP Panagiotis Lafazanis indicated that his party may tolerate the provision give debtors more breathing space. The government, however, wants also to exempt those who owe more than one million euros while chasing people who owe less.

Another SYRIZA lawmaker Yiannis Milios told Mega television that his party would revoke the solidarity tax on income, which was introduced as an emergency measure at the peak of the crisis but keeps being extended despite promises it would be ended one of these years. The government announced that it would be reduced by 30 percent.

The tax was supposed to be for one years but if the extension prevails it will go into sixth year and could become permanent unless revoked. It added a crushing new burden on taxpayers already buried by big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.