Pangalos: Church must pay too, not best time for sale of PPC

Government vice president Theodoros Pangalos said he disagreed with an exemption of the Church of Greece from taxation and opined that this was not the best time for the sale of the Public Power Corporation, and also anticipated that the jobs that will be abolished "not in public administration but in the state enterprises" will be 70,000, in interviews appearing on Thursday in the Swiss newspapers "Tribune de Geneve" and "24 Heures".
In an interview titled "All the Greeks must change, including the Church", Pangalos referred to the recent negotiations with the EU-IMF troika, stressing that there was no rift or a revision of financing to the Greek economy, but a delay on Greece's side and disappointing on the troika side.
The recession in Greece was deeper than predicted and has deprived the state of revenues, Pangalos said, adding that there are also "political obstacles" to putting an end to the clientele relations which, he added, have inflated the number of personnel in the public sector, "which is the basic cause of the fiscal deficit".
Asked to confirm speculation on the abolition of 100,000 working positions, Pangalos said the figure was more likely 70,000 and did not concern the public administration but the state enterprises.
On criticism by Greek self-employed professionals that the politicians are responsible for the crisis because they excessively inflated the public sector, Pangalos said that "they, too, live off of the state", adding that "the civil servants are their clients, and in addition the self-employed permanently steal from the state".
For example, he continued, "the lawyers in Athens declare a monthly income of 1,500 euros...That is impossible...Thus, they all are part of the loss of revenues".
"I have said it before. We spent the money together. The question I put to the Greeks is 'do you always ask a receipt from the plumber? That must change," Pangalos said.
To a comment by the Swiss journalists that even the unemployed and disabled in Greece will be taxed whereas 'the Orthodox Church will not pay', Pangalos said that he disagrees with that exemption: "The Church demands its financial autonomy and manages a substantial inheritance. It would be natural that it pays, like the others. It should set the example in this".
The Church has said that it has no objections to paying an extraordinary surtax on real estate assets -- which the government has imposed on all Greeks -- for its assets that are commercially exploited.
Questioned on criticism that the government is selling off public utilities at a time when the stockmarket is very low, Pangalos admitted that "this is not the best time...the stockmarket price of the country's biggest enterprise, which manages electricity (PPC), is at one-tenth the value of its real estate assets, we can't do that, but for other state enterprises that require modernisation, if we use the money for investments and rekindling the economy, it will be in the public interest".

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