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More hopeful signs for the Greek economy, tax service head quits


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More hopeful signs for the Greek economy, tax service head quits

Greece’s economy continues to shrink, but the pace of that contraction is slowing – supporting projections that the austerity-battered country will emerge from a crippling six-year slump this year.

Between January and March, gross domestic product declined 0.9 percent year-on-year in the fourth straight quarter of decelerating economic contraction.

Athens and its international lenders, the so-called troika, believe the economy will expand by 0.6 percent, helped by investments, exports and tourism.

One part of the statistics that stood out was that Greeks are starting to spend more; there was a positive contribution to GDP from consumption which rose 0.8 percent year-on-year.

The figures are based on seasonally unadjusted data as the Greek statistics service does not provide seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter data, which most countries use to measure their economic performance.

Head of the tax service quits

Greece’s top tax official has stepped down after what major newspapers said was his mishandling of some aspects of his mandate to modernise an antiquated tax bureaucracy.

Harry Theoharis had been appointed just last year at the behest of Greece’s EU/IMF international lenders. His term was supposed to run five years.

Greece has long struggled with patchy tax collection – a problem that added to Greece’s slide into a severe debt crisis.

Following the announcement of his resignation by the finance ministry, a teary-eyed Theoharis told reporters he was stepping down “for personal reasons”.

“No, I don’t feel like a scapegoat,” he said when pressed by reporters on whether he was forced to resign. “Because to be a scapegoat something must’ve gone wrong and, in my job, nothing went wrong. I delivered results and this is widely known.”

Responding to criticism that he had failed to crack down sufficiently on wealthy tax evaders Theoharis said: “Serious tax evaders have serious weapons at their disposal such as lawyers and procedures, and structures in the current tax system are inadequate against them. This situation must be corrected before you can tackle serious tax evasion.”

with Reuters

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