Athens Digest 06.09.2018

• Settlements keeping revenue watchers happy

• We are the (tax) champions

• Conservatives pick combative ex-leader for Euro lineup

• TV licences 2.0

# Tax settlements and a voluntary income disclosure scheme are keeping tax revenues on track, according to a report from Greece’s Independent Public Revenue Authority. The agency says some EUR 19.3 billion was collected in the first six months of the year, up 1.59 percent from 2017 but just shy of a revised budget target. An increase in excise taxes also saw a shift in the revenue profile, the report found, boosting the share of indirect taxes to two-thirds of the total. The results were announced a few days after the agency issued payment notices for this year’s property taxes _ seeking some EUR 3.1 billion from 6.3 million private and corporate property owners.

# It will come as little surprise to Greece’s recession-weary residents, but the country pressed its taxpayers more than any other nation in the developed world over the last decade. An OECD report, Tax Policy Reforms 2018, found Greece to have imposed the largest tax increases between 2007 and 2016 _ showing the highest increase of tax-to-GDP at 7.4 percentage points. Only four other countries out of the 34 in the survey had increases above 3 percentage points: Argentina, Estonia, Mexico, and Slovakia. Half of the countries lowered their tax rates during that decade.

# Evangelos Meimarakis, the combative former New Democracy leader, has been tipped to lead the party ballot for the European Parliament elections. The 64-year-old politician was widely reported to have sealed the position after meeting with party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Seen as being pro-European and a staunch party loyalist, Meimarakis surprised colleagues when he served at interim leader for four months in 2015, rallying support of the conservative base in a general election that autumn that the party was given little chance of winning.

# After an ill-fated attempt two years ago, a bidding-and-allocation process for new nationwide television broadcasting licenses has been completed. A public regulator, the National Council for Radio and Television, said successful bidders for 10-year licenses are: Alpha, ANT1, SKAI, Star, and Epsilon. The bid winners have been given 15 days to pay the first installment of the license fee of EUR 35 million. The previous bidding process was cancelled in court as failing to have proper regulatory oversight.

On our Radar: Jolt to Justice?
Prime Minister Tsipras’ pick of Katerina Papakosta, a one-time political foe turned independent, to supervise the police got most of the attention in Cabinet reshuffle. But one week on, the government was defending its new man at justice: Michalis Kalogerou. The Financial Times described the government’s former legal advisor as a “radical” who had represented a noted terror suspect at trial. Kalogerou described the article as “libelous” and containing factual errors _ pointing out that that he had represented an alleged member of the terror group Revolutionary Popular Struggle who was acquitted in court and had maintained throughout the case that the accusations against him had been false.