The latest story dominating the Greek media is something called a Lagarde list. The fact that the list is getting so much attention shows the complete lack of understanding by the Greek media and Greek politicians of the country’s problems
Its been repeated ad-nauseum but here is a quick break down
The total deposits of the 1,991 individuals on the list, in just one HSBC branch in Geneva, are about 1.5bn euros. But for nearly two years, authorities failed to utilise the information.
To say that this is a political diversion gone mad is an understatment.
Even if all that money is for taxes is still does not cover the Greek government’s overspending for a single month.
What else has the Greek government put forward?
On October 3, Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis ordered a tax probe of over 50,000 citizens who wired a total of 22bn euros to foreign banks between 2009 and 2011. The probe will begin with 3,000 people who sent over one million euro. About 1,770 of these have wired over 5m euros.
and they key piece is this
Authorities believe that about 3bn euros of that money may be linked to tax evasion.In cases where wrongdoing is established, the ministry says that fines will be imposed and assets seized.
So the Greek government is not even saying that the 3 billion Euros is unpaid taxes, they are saying that of the 22 billion Euro in transfers, 3 billion Euros may be liable to Greek tax. So in reality we are probably talking about 1.5 billion Euros assuming there transfers are liable to a 50% tax rate which they are probably not.
But lets for the sake of argument say that the entire 3 billion is unpaid taxes. This would only cover the Greek government’s overspending for 6 weeks.
What’s my point?
The media and the politicians appear to have a complete lack of comprehension with regards to the size of the Greek government’s problem.
The Greek government spends over 2 billion Euros a month more than it takes in, the Greek government does not want to carry out labour reforms and it does not want to sack any government workers and yet it seems the biggest story in the Greek news is that the Greek government, at best, has missed out on tax revenues that would balance the government books for 6 weeks.
And yet the Greek media and Greek politicians seem to think it is appropriate to focus their attention on this issue rather than their overspending. The whole focus is on how the government can get more money rather than how the government can spend less money.
As I have said before the Greek government’s problem has nothing to do with tax avoidance and everything to do with a government that has no clue how to balance its finances, to say people should be paying more money to an organisation that is clearly incompetent is a disgrace. The Greek government should make do with the tax levels of 2003 and when they can show they can spend that properly, then they may be considered responsible enough to increase taxes.
To give ever-increasing amounts of your work to a reckless government would be idiotic.
Indeed the most intelligent people in this whole debate could be the people who quite wisely moved their money to Switzerland due to the constant bombardment of threats from politicians that Greece is on the edge of collapse.
To complain when people move their money out when they are faced with this government propaganda is hypocrisy and Orwellian Double Think of the highest order.
The coverage of the Greek government deficit and the attitude of the Greek government towards it obvious financial problems is an insult to any European that sees their tax money going towards propping up the Greek political class and the Greek public sector trade unions and this includes the Greek taxpayer as much, if not more, than any other taxpayer in the EU.