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Greeks face grim Christmas and taxing new year

Greeks face grim Christmas and taxing new year
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Greeks are facing a more taxing time ahead as the government formally unveiled a bill intended to boost its tax revenue from companies and individuals.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras hopes the new measures will bring in about 2.5 billion euros next year and the year after.

It is part of an overall 13.5 billion euro austerity package that has to be passed for Athens to qualify for further European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout money.

As Greece prepares for another gloomy Christmas amid all those cutbacks, a retailers’ trade group says sales are down by over 20 percent in early December.

Athens resident Eleni Dimistriou summed it up: “In comparison to previous years this Christmas is very poor. Our people are suffering.”

While a pensioner was even more forthright saying: “The government has cut our income and taken everything. They took our holiday bonuses, there’s extra taxes, so how can we go shopping? I am just window shopping. No one is working in my family.”

Shopkeepers – who in many cases count on the holiday season for their annual profits – said they are hoping that at the last minute people will buy presents – particularly for their children.

But wage, job, pension and benefits cuts mean private consumption in Greece is down by a fifth from what it was four years ago.

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