Destinations Magazine

Temporary Relief

By Stizzard
Temporary relief

THERE was plenty of shouting in parliament as Greece’s government, led by the leftist Syriza party, pushed through a €1.8 billion ($ 2 billion) package of tax increases on May 22nd. Protestors, among them a former Syriza cabinet minister, hoisted a banner outside the building declaring “They (the measures) shall not pass”. But Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, rallied his lawmakers: there were no defections. Afterwards Panos Kammenos, defence minister and leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks, Syriza’s coalition partner, blasted the rise in value-added taxes on small Aegean islands—which he had just voted for—as “criminal”.

From next year Greeks will have to pay more for the small pleasures that have made life bearable during the country’s seven-year recession: cigarettes, coffee and even craft beer. VAT will rise to 24% on groceries, mobile phone calls and most consumer goods. “Just surviving has become a challenge,” sighed Stelios Paterakis, a retired army officer living on a pension of €800 a month.

The tax increases completed a package of reforms that Greece agreed to after six months of negotiations with its…

The Economist: Europe

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