Athens Digest 06.12.2018

• T-Bill yield holds at 0.90 percent in 6-month auction

• Uphill burden: Taxes still being piled on

• Mitsotakis vows to restart major gold investment and support reforms

# The government has raised EUR 1.625 billion in its latest 26-week T-bill auction, from an initial offering of EUR 1.250 billion. The yield was 0.90 percent, amid eased rates in the bond market triggered by hopes of a resolution to the Italian budget crisis that had upset markets for weeks. The rate was roughly unchanged from 0,85 percent at the previous auction on October 31. The coverage ratio in the latest auction was 1.33, slightly improved from the previous sale.

# A heavier burden was imposed on Greek taxpayers at a time when other Europeans were being granted relief. An OECD survey of taxes in member nations showed the gap widening after 2014 when OECD member taxpayers forked out 33.6 percent of respective country GDP in taxes, and Greeks paid 35.7 percent. Three years later, that average rose to 34.2 percent while Greeks paid a whopping 39.4 percent. In the three-year period, Greece hiked sales taxes across multiple categories and made higher property taxes permanent.

# Opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has vowed to unblock a Canadian gold mining investment in northern Greece, accusing the Tsipras government of lacking the commitment to reforms needed to modernize the country. In an interview with the Financial Times, the New Democracy leader said he would also give priority to the slow-moving coastal development project at Hellenikon, at the old international airport near Athens. “It’s not just a question of consolidating fiscal policy … It is also a question of really believing in implementing structural reforms, making Greece more competitive,” he said. That commitment, he said, included “changing the overall business climate, bringing in significant amounts of foreign investment but also mobilizing domestic investment.”

On our Radar: Syrian swimmer released from jail
Authorities have released Syrian refugee swimmer Sara Mardini and three other charity members who had been jailed on migrant smuggling charges. The case has drawn international attention over the fate of Mardini, whose sister Yusra Mardini was part of the refugee swimming team at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The four suspects _ who include a German and two Greeks _ face charges of migrant smuggling, espionage and membership of a criminal organization. No travel restrictions were placed on Mardini following her release.