Athens, September 18 From farmers to pharmacists, pain lies in store for Greeks across the board as whoever wins Sunday’s election will have to raise taxes and rewrite the economic rule-book in line with tough reforms demanded by the country’s international creditors. The controversial economic to-do list set to upend daily life was signed and sealed in July by former radical left premier Alexis Tsipras, in return for an 86-billion-euro ($96-billion) rescue by the lenders, the third EU-IMF rescue of Greece in five years. Under the deal, creditors chalked up some 15 ‘prior actions’ to be passed by parliament by October — days after the September 20 poll. Also to come in October is the first review by the lenders of whether Athens is abiding by the cash-for-reform programme. At stake for the new government will be the release of a new three-billion-euro tranche of aid. Greece’s new parliament will have to revise the 2015 budget, taking into account pension and income tax reforms, including taxes on farmers’ income that are set to double from 13 per cent to 26 per cent by 2017. Tax on income of less than 12,000 euros a year earned by Greeks is to rise progressively from 11 to 15 per cent, and from 33 to 35 per cent for annual income of more than 12,000 euros. Defence spending will be cut and shipowners will remain in the line of fire, with a tax on tonnage renewed for an extra four years. There will be new cuts on pensions, aimed at reaching savings of around 0.25 per cent of GDP in 2015 and around one per cent of GDP by 2016. After an initial hike in VAT in July, a second increase is set for October when hotels and affluent Greek islands lose the right to reduced VAT rates. Early retirement schemes, from age 50 onwards, will be scrapped between this year and 2021 with retirement gradually set for all after 40 years of work. Tax evaders are to face tougher punishment, even those who own up first. Greece will liberalise parts of the retail industry, enabling non-pharmacists to open pharmacies, medicine to be sold in department stores, bread sold elsewhere than in bakeries and sales held throughout the year rather than at set times. The new government must also open up professions including engineers and notaries where entry currently is restricted.
Pain in store for Greek farmers to pharmacists after vote tomorrow
Published: 09:27 am Sep 19, 2015