Athens Digest 30.07.2019

• Broad cross-party support for the government’s tax bill

• Enel’s Stassis tapped for top Greek power job

• Smoking ban sent to all regional authorities

• 180 days of taxes

Christos Staikouras, the finance minister, has told lawmakers that any fiscal space created by a strong budget performance will be used to provide additional tax reductions and help boost growth. He made the commitment after securing broad cross-party support for the government’s tax bill at committee level, ahead of today’s plenary debate. The bill provides distressed taxpayers more generous repayment terms under an existing installment scheme. The Ministry of Finance will have to convince the country’s creditors that despite tax cuts, the fiscal targets will be met. According to sources, Greece is proposing to include the upcoming returns from ANFAs and SMPs (app. EUR 1.2bn) in its yearly revenue.

# Georgios Stassis, CEO of Enel in Romania, has been named as the government’s choice to head the Public Power Corporation. Board members of the Hellenic Corporation of Assets and Participations backed Stassis’ nomination to be the next Chairman and CEO of the troubled Greek utility. He will head a high-stakes rescue plan to pull the former power monopoly back from the brink of financial ruin and steer it away from lignite dependency. Stassis replaces Manolis Panagiotakis, who resigned this month shortly after the general election.

# The government has promised bold changes in reforming tax policy, public administration, and long-held taboo allowing police onto university campuses. But its first test will come from its stated aim to crack down on a national pastime. The Health Ministry says it has sent a circular to all regional authorities in Greece reminding officials of penalties on the books for a more than a decade for smoking in public places. That includes taxis, any publicly-run buildings, and any vehicle with underage passengers, as well as indoor sporting grounds and enclosed waiting areas for public transport. “The purpose of the circular is to safeguard public health by preventing the adverse effects of smoking in all public places,” the ministry said. The document was distributed on Friday.

On our Radar: 180 days of taxes
In July, Greeks on average started  pocketing the money they’ve been working for all year _ according to an annual study to calculate the so-called Tax Freedom Day for 2019. The study in Greece is carried out by the ‘Markos Dragoumis’ Center for Liberal Studies, KEFiM. It estimated that Greeks must work for 180 days _ or to June 30 _ to clear their tax obligations for the current year. That’s 73 days for sales taxes, 46 days for direct taxes, and another 61 days for social security contributions. This is the 4th worst score among the EU member states.