Athens Digest 27.01.2019

• Greece to tap markets for up to EUR 7bn in 2019

• Business taxes paid most promptly, says revenue authority

• Happy, cashless, New Year

• FYROM pipeline gets early nod

# Greece is planning to tap bond markets for between EUR 3 and 7bn in 2019, under financing scenarios announced by the Public Debt Management Agency. The borrowing needs vary depending on privatisation receipts and whether the agency will order a modest reduction of the annual T-bill stocks from the current level of some EUR 15 billion. All three scenarios _ with corresponding bond auctions worth EUR 3, 5, or 7 billion _ also include ECB profit returns on Greek bond holdings of at least EUR 1.2 billion and up to EUR 1.4 billion.

# Tax authorities say business taxes were the most frequently paid on time this year, followed by sales taxes (VAT), and property taxes _ leaving income tax levied on ordinary Greeks in last place. Overall, nearly one-in-five tax bills were not paid on time during the first 10 months of 2018, according to data from the Independent Authority for Public Revenue. The figures showed timely payment for businesses at 89.26 percent, VAT at 83.77 percent, property tax (ENFIA) at 74.18 percent, and income tax at 68.98 percent.

# Despite dismantling capital controls, authorities are set to push taxpayers to increase card and online transactions next year. The Finance Ministry is reportedly prepping plans to be announced in January that will increase electronic-transaction spending minimums across all income categories required to qualify for a tax-free threshold. Card are online payments are seen as more efficient for sales and income tax collection and as a vital tool for fighting tax evasion. Under the measures currency being considered, the average salary earner would have to spend 50 percent more in non-cash payments in 2019 than he or she did this year to ‘build’ a threshold.

# Greece and FYROM still have to finalise the Prespa Agreement and normalise relations, but discussions are already underway to link the two countries by a natural gas pipeline. Greek energy regulator RAE has reportedly raised no objections to a 10-year development plan by domestic gas grid operator DESFA that includes the proposed pipeline venture worth some EUR 50 million. But it noted that a satisfactory level or market interest would be needed for project to move forward.

On our Radar: Pitino leads Green shakeup
In a bold recruitment, Panathinaikos has signed US college coaching great Rick Pitino to manage the Greek club. The 66-year-old Pitino, wearing the green scarf of his new club, arrived in Athens yesterday and went straight into a training session. He said he planned focus on improvements that could be made “in a very short period of time,” citing the recent shooting record as a clear weakness. Pitino replaces Spanish coach Xavi Pascual who was fired last week following a string of Euroleague losses.