EU Warns Greece Is "A Cause Of Serious Concern" As Top Tax-Collector Resigns

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Haris Theocharis, the Troika-supported general secretary of Greece’s public revenues was forced to resign following press leaks about "government discontent" at his handling of tax issues - most notably the retroactive taxation of gains on Greek government bonds. As KeepTalkingGreece notes, Theocharis was a hardliner, a devoted supporter of the loan agreements and their implementation and kept loading the Greek taxpayers with new burdens and exorbitant fines. However, the resignation of the country's top tax-collector is "a cause of serious concern," according to EU spokespersons.

 

As Keep Talking Greece notes,

Haris Theocharis, general secretary of Greece’ public revenues was forced to resign. Officially, Theocharis submitted his resignation “for personal reasons”. Unofficially, he was forced to resign and thus before the upcoming government reshuffle aiming to build a “social policy profile” around Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

 

Haris Theocharis submitted his resignation to  Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras during a marathon meeting the two men held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday. During the last days, leakages to the press were speaking of “government discontent about Theocharis”, practically announcing his removal.

 

“The rumors about the removal of Mr Theocharis were sparked by an article in daily KAthirmerini, according to which, the prime minister’s office  was discontent about Theocharis’ handling of tax issues, especially during the time before the EU elections. The general secretary had apparently issued a circular for the retrospective taxation of foreign investors who had bought Greek bonds which resulted in climbing of the spreads, so the government arguments.”

 

In a statement on Thursday, Stournaras praised Theocharis’ efforts to support the tax reforms and contribution to the objectives of the government and added:

 

“Most important, he did all this by showing consistent results , consistently exceeding all set targets, something that was reflecting in the positive budget results.”

 

Theocharis was a hardliner, a devoted supporter of the loan agreements and their implementation and kept loading the Greek taxpayers with new burdens and exorbitant fines.

 

Was Stournaras the “tzar” of the Greek Economy, Theocharis was the official “Tax Collector” who had no scruple to impose astronomical fines even to those who had mistakes in their tax declarations.

 

He was also supposed to receive bonus according to his target achievements, although this was officially dismissed recently and his monthly salary was given as 4,650 euro gross.

 

Despite his over the average monthly wage, Theocharis was bold enough to claim in front of angry property owners, that he too could not pay the emergency property taxes.

 

“During his appearance at the congress of  the Association of Property Owners, a number of people started to shout and protest about the many different taxes imposed at properties.

 

“I have no money to pay property taxes,” shouted someone from the audience.

 

An obviously stunned general secretary claimed “Me neither!”

 

Theocharis was appointed to the office of General Secretary of Public Revenues in January 2013 and for a period of five years, apparently in order to be able operate without the influence of this or that Greek government that has an average survival time of 2-3 years.

 

Theocahris had to resign – as if he was not implementing the Stournaras-Greek -Government economic policies, as if he did not contribute to the famous “primary surplus”. But now it is time for the center-right populism of Nea Dimokratia and PASOK to rise ahead of possible early elections.

According to Greek media, Greece’s lenders, the Troika, did not agree with the removal of Theocharis, whom they considered as successful.

Revenue administration plays a key role in the reform program and this development is “a cause of serious concern,” EU spokesman Simon O’Connor says in e-mailed statement, commenting on resignation of Greek Revenue Chief Haris Theoharis earlier today.

Says “will continue to closely monitor the Greek government’s commitment to a more autonomous revenue administration, as well as commitments to establish rigorous, transparent and merit based processes for the appointment of senior managers in the Greek public sector”

It seems the recent EU elections fallout is beginning...