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Society

Tsipras Exempts Refugee-Overrun Islands from Big Tax Hike

July 2, 2018

ATHENS – After breaking more promises and raising the Value Added Tax (VAT) on Greek islands, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras said he’ll lower them for five islands overwhelmed with more than 15,000 refugees and migrants being kept in detention centers.

The government said there will be a 30 percent reduction on Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros but not more remote islands where he raised taxes in breaking his pledges, raising the costs there even though they are far from supply lines and services.

Higher rates were set to begin July 1 on the five islands but Tsipras kept them exempt with critics indicating he’s already in a pre-campaign mode with elections required by October, 2019 and his popularity plummeting for reneging on anti-austerity vows, including an avalanche of tax hikes and new taxes on people who had been exempt.

Tsipras told journalists after the EU summit in Brussels the country’s creditors agreed to the VAT break on the refugee islands “for as long as the refugee crisis continues,” and said it would stay as long as he is in power, making another promise. He reiterated the news in a tweet and a video.

The cost in lost revenues will be about 60 million euros ($70.22 million) for the last six months of the year which means taxpayers will have to subsidize eligible island families for between 500-1000 euros ($585.17-$1170.35) annually if it is extended in 2019, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

Physicians serving at state-run health care facilities and teachers will also be eligible for the ferry boat subsidy.

The islands have become overcrowded with refugees and migrants Turkey allowed human traffickers to send after they went to that country fleeing war and strife in the Middle East.

A European Union swap deal that began more than two years ago has been essentially suspended with other countries closing the borders and refusing to help and reneging on pledges to take some of the overload from Greece.

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