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Old 09-27-2011, 11:36 AM  
banyon banyon is offline
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things getting serious in Greece...pay new property taxes or we cut off the lights

Greek money running out amid opposition to tax hike

A taxing situation in Greece
Mon, Sep 12 2011

A protester raises Greek flag in front of the parliament during a rally against a new austerity package at Athens' Syntagma (Constitution) square June 11, 2011. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol


By Harry Papachristou

ATHENS | Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:26pm BST

(Reuters) - Greek workers threatened on Monday to sabotage a new property tax decided by the government as a last-ditch effort to please international lenders, ignoring warnings that Athens will run out of cash next month.

The move casts doubt on the government's goal to plug a 2 billion euro hole in its 2011 budget and meet the deficit goals its EU/IMF lenders have set to continue bankrolling the cash-strapped country.

Euro zone policymakers threatened last week to withhold the sixth bailout tranche, of about 8 billion euros (6.9 billion pounds), because of the country's repeated fiscal slippages.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy welcomed the fiscal measures Athens announced over the weekend and said representatives of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the so-called troika, would return to resume talks on Monday.

Greece needs to get its next 8.0 billion euro loan tranche under the first bailout package to avert default down the line as it will be running on empty after some time in October.

The government on Sunday announced the new property tax to make sure it will comply with the terms and qualify for the tranche. The EU's Commissioner for Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, said the measure went "a long way" towards meeting the country's targets.

But workers at power utility PPC (DEHr.AT) reacted angrily, vowing to block the tax, which the government plans to collect through electricity bills to make sure citizens will pay quickly.

"PPC is no cowboy and no sheriff to put the gun at the Greek people's head," the company's labour union GENOP/DEH said in a statement.

GENOP officials said they would obstruct the issuing of bills and order PPC employees not to cut the power of customers who refuse to pay the tax.

Energy Minister George Papaconstantinou criticised the workers.

"(The tax) can't be the object of cheap trade union grand-standing," he said in a statement, adding that the union had no say in how the company was run.

GENOP-DEH is seen as one of Greece's toughest unions. In the past, it has held repeated strikes to prevent the government from selling stakes or seeking strategic partners for the company.

Greece already uses PPC bills as a vehicle to collect municipal taxes and the fees of state broadcaster ERT. The state-controlled company has more than 90 percent of the country's retail electricity market.

Tens of thousands of austerity-hit families and companies are already late in paying their power bills. GENOP/DEH estimates consumers' arrears in the hundreds of millions of euros, including 135 million by the government itself. A PPC spokesman declined to comment on the figures.

DEAFENING RESPONSE

Prime Minister George Papandreou urged his ruling socialist party lawmakers to back the tax hike, which will apply in 2011 and 2012 and will cost property owners about 4 euros per square metre per year.

"I am calling on you to deliver a response to silence all those ... who are slandering us, calling us lazy and incompetent," he said in a speech in parliament.

The debt-laden country has cash to operate until next month, the country's deputy Finance Minister said on Monday, confirming previous unofficial comments by Greek officials.

"We have definitely manoeuvring space within October," Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis said in an interview on television channel Mega, responding to questions how much longer the government will be able to pay wages and pensions.

"We are trying to make sure the state can continue to operate without problems," he added.

Finance ministry data on Monday showed the budget deficit of the central government widened by an annual 22 percent in the year to August, to 18.10 billion euros.

And on the banking front, fresh data released by the central bank showed that bank deposits continued to decline in July although outflows decelerated, down 0.5 percent month-on-month.

Greek bank borrowing from the European Central Bank (ECB) fell 6.5 percent in July to 96.29 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said.

The government attributed the shortfall to a deeper-than-expected recession, seen at more than 5 percent -- the country's third consecutive year of economic contraction.

(Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by George Georgiopoulos; editing by Ron Askew)

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/0...kdailyinvestor
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:42 AM   #2
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Sooner or later, Greece will default.
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:48 AM   #3
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:50 AM   #4
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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Property tax on electricity bills surprises Greek people


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Thursday, September 15, 2011
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse


A pedestrian walks past a woman begging in the street in Thessaloniki. Greeks have been slapped with an emergency property tax, to be included in their electricity bills. AP photo

A pedestrian walks past a woman begging in the street in Thessaloniki. Greeks have been slapped with an emergency property tax, to be included in their electricity bills. AP photo

Greeks were fuming on Thursday at a surprise property tax that could leave out Church holdings while the country is being urged to make ‘costly’ sacrifices to secure rescue loans.

The finance ministry, under pressure from its international creditors to plug a budget hole of more than 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), further increased the tax which had already caused outrage when announced at the weekend.

‘Rubbing my eyes’

Instead of a maximum of 10 euros per square metre, the limit was placed at 16 euros and electricity will be cut off for owners who refuse to pay.

“I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief,” tax accountant Vangelis Abeliotis told Flash Radio, noting that households will have to pay 1,000 euros on average on top of existing wage cuts and price rises under a tough austerity program last year.

“There is no way a family with a child that is studying or is unemployed can cover this cost, many will not hesitate to just cut power in secondary homes,” Abeliotis said.


The uproar was reflected in Thursday’s newspapers, with leftist Eleftherotypia speaking of a “great grab” on property.

Pro-government Ethnos spoke of a “very costly lifeline” from France and Germany, noting that the latest measures are a condition for the smooth disbursement of bankruptcy-saving loans to Athens.

‘No way in the parliament’

Senior officials were bombarded with calls from ruling party lawmakers irate at the news that Church holdings were being exempted, Ta Nea daily said.

“It is a disgrace to leave out thousands of church buildings,” deputy Soula Merentiti told the daily. “There’s no way this is passing parliament.”

The finance ministry said the tax would not apply to state offices, embassies, religious buildings, monasteries, non-profit organizations, charities and amateur sports clubs.

The finance ministry says that Greeks have 400 billion euros invested in property, roughly the size of the nation’s sovereign debt which is more than 350 billion euros.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.p...ple-2011-09-15
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:01 PM   #6
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What's a "secondary home"?
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:05 PM   #7
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Yup...and the EMU is going down.
Not as clear that one automatically leads to the other.
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
What's a "secondary home"?
I assume that's what we call in the State a "2nd home".
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by banyon View Post
I assume that's what we call in the State a "2nd home".
It's hard to feel too sorry for people who have to cut electricity to their 2nd home to deal with this property tax.
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:15 PM   #10
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Apparently Greece was paying state workers 13 or 14 months of wages per year.

Really great article from Michael Lewis on Germany's role in the financial crisis, well worth the read. One of the proposals is to split off the deadbeat countries (Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc. ) and issue a 2nd, lower tier euro.

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/f.../europe-201109
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:26 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
It's hard to feel too sorry for people who have to cut electricity to their 2nd home to deal with this property tax.
What about the family that is "with a child, studying or unemployed"?

I think the point about second homes wasn't to elicit sympathy, but to point out potential demand destruction in revenues.
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Old 09-27-2011, 12:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
What's a "secondary home"?
it is a term for lesser people - broke folks. the are saying the power people will cut electricity to them immediately.
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:03 PM   #13
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Good take from Andrew Sullivan.

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That's happening in Europe right now may not be as much fun as watching Ron Paul on Jon Stewart, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that much of our fate now lies in their hands. The euro was always predicated on voluntary sovereign governments' compliance with strict rules on debt. Those rules were either openly broken, or secretly flaunted or allowed to drift. All of this could be kept afloat for a while with the lubricant of economic growth - but take that away, and watch the bad debts chase the bankrupt governments chase the banks in even the strongest economies, like Germany.

We are at that moment when either the EU unravels because there is no collective will to bail out Greece (and Portugal and Italy) affirmatively or the Germans decide that it is time to take serious charge of the continent again. Zachary Karabell makes the case for optimism here. But I'm afraid I can't see a path between - although I am relieved that Tory euro-skepticism kept Britain from strapping itself to the euro mast.

Ryan Avent sketches the choice ahead:

On the one hand, it's as clear as ever that the euro zone needs a massive, ambitious policy to avoid a catastrophic financial scenario. And on the other, it seems ever less likely that the euro zone's leaders can agree on such a policy and muster the domestic political support to ratify and implement it. If Europe simply can't do what it needs to do, that leaves the euro zone, and the world, facing a very dark economic reality.

That reality is a darkening, intensifying depression, caused ultimately by governments, banks and individuals putting short-term ease over long-term stability over the last decade or so. My bet, I'm afraid to say, is on the euro's collapse. Sometimes, the pressure on such a new and risky experiment becomes too much. And this recession may prove Thatcher right again. You can't have a single currency for long without a single government. Pretty soon, I suspect we'll have neither.
http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast....as-scared.html
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:06 PM   #14
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:16 PM   #15
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You can't have a single currency for long without a single government. Pretty soon, I suspect we'll have neither.
That's not such a bad thing either.

Don't forget this whole arrangement was swaddled in the rhetoric of free-trade first to avoid scaring the people that it would be a single political union eventually. The EU constitution was not wanted by the people and voted down. So the govt elites passed it anyway via a parliamentary move. Now that it is falling apart isn't such a bad a thing. Decentralization is better for them. It's the debt and overspending and flagrant disregard for economic law that caused their economic situation though.

Germans, who are a productive people and as a result wealthier, are just not going to support the countries that aren't productive.
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