Mayors told to find new revenues

Interior Minister Evripidis Stylianidis has suggested that Greek municipalities could in the near future be allowed to raise their own taxes and use their properties as collateral to gain funding from banks, thereby weaning the local authorities off public money.

Stylianidis is currently involved in a standoff with mayors over funding. Municipalities are to hold a 48-hour strike from Wednesday to protest the reduction in the public funds they receive. The minister, however, insisted in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini that mayors know “the central government’s financial capabilities have been exhausted.”

He suggested instead, that local authorities should find alternative ways of raising revenues. One of these could be fiscal decentralization, allowing municipalities to levy taxes to cover their costs. “The state would transfer the power to collect a particular tax to the municipalities, which would have the responsibility to keep spending in line with revenues,” he said.

Stylianidis also suggested that local authorities could make better use of their real estate to boost their revenues. “They could create a fund and transfer their property there, have it valued and then vie for funding from the European Investment Bank or from private Greek banks,” he said. “This would allow them to obtain liquidity without weighing on the public debt or deficit.”

Stylianidis added that municipalities could also install solar panels and use private contractors for waste management to ease their financial problems. “Municipalities manage all of the country’s schools but the law currently allows only part of these buildings to be covered with photovoltaics,” he said. “If we allow full coverage, these schools would achieve energy self-sufficiency and would save a lot of money.”

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