Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Wednesday addressed Parliament during a debate on a tax draft bill, with statements nevertheless mostly dominated by the recent Eurogroup decisions on Greece's 110-billion-euro bailout package, as well as the country's overall economic situation.

“Even a simple observer at the March 11 European Council was able to see the difficulties and realise how much was achieved by Greece. We are not done yet. The larger the assistance we receive from the EU, the greater our obligation to complete our programme within schedule,” Papaconstantinou said.

Referring to the European Summit and Eurogroup results, Papaconstantinou stressed that “the course we are following has won recognition”.

Extension of the repayment period until 2023, reduction of the interest rate by one percentage point and the guaranteeing Greece’s financing through 2012 constitute a negotiation success, according to the finance minister, something he said creates an obligation to “continue the fiscal adjustment, major reforms and changes”.

Papaconstantinou also stressed that “we have undertaken an obvious commitment: to utilize the state-owned real property within the framework of the privatisation programme”.

He rejected criticism concerning the reduced revenues, stressing that the government had to pay hospital debts and long overdue tax returns.

As regards the tax evasion, he said that it is “widespread in the Greek society”.

He underlined that the tax bureau system is corrupt and has problems and that stricter penalties for corrupt tax officers were necessary, adding that the economic crime prosecutor’s office is being established for the first time.