All parties in the governing coalition have backed efforts to clampdown on tax evasion after the arrest of a restaurant owner on the island of Hydra prompted an angry reaction by locals.
Some residents of the island clashed with police and boarded a ferry in a bid to prevent the restaurateur being transferred to Athens to face charges following his arrest on Saturday. Riot police were taken to the island in a bid to maintain calm.
The entrepreneur was escorted from the island on Sunday.
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that the coalition was determined to tackle tax evasion. “The government is determined to confront this destructive and unfair practice,” he said.
“At a time when citizens are feeling the heavy impact of the crisis and the actions needed to get the Greek economy into order, everyone will have to accept their practical and moral share of responsibility and not stand in the way of the law being implanted.”
New Democracy’s two coalition partners, PASOK and Democratic Left, both condemned the actions of Hydra residents who resisted the restaurateur’s arrest.
“The incident on Hydra has embarrassed the country internationally and allowed negative and unfair stereotypes to be about Greeks and Greece to be reproduced,” said PASOK in a statement. “These stereotypes lead to the significant progress made so far being ignored.”
“The clampdown on tax evasion will not happen by tax evaders voluntarily going to tax offices,” said Democratic Left’s Dimitris Chatzisokratis. “It has to happen through systematic checks by the financial crimes squad (SDOE) and the financial police.”
SYRIZA MP Theodoros Dritsas accused the government of hypocrisy over the Hydra incident, arguing that it was chasing small-time tax evaders while ignoring the major culprits.
“This is not an effort to fight tax evasion, it is a silly and costly attempt at a show of force by the government and the state,” he said.
His view was not shared by fellow SYRIZ A MP Dimitris Papadimoulis, who said he found the behavior of the Hydra tax evader “odious.”
“The bigger tax evasion is, the harsher the cuts to wages and pensions will be. Let’s be clear about that,” Papadimoulis said via his Twitter account.