Germany offers to send tax men to Greece

Germany offers to send tax men to Greece
Photo: DPA
The German government is prepared to send 160 financial experts to Greece to help the country overhaul its tax collection, the business weekly WirtschaftsWoche reported Saturday.

Hans Bernhard Beus, deputy finance minister, told the magazine that the tax officials are ready to jump in to help the ailing country. They would need to at least speak English, but about a dozen of the volunteers speak Greek, he said.

A large number of the volunteers would come from western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where state Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) told WirtschaftsWoche: “Greece is facing the problems that former East Germany faced in 1990.”

Walter-Borjans warned that the Greeks would likely have even more reservations about the Germans offering advice than the East Germans did about their western counterparts coming in after reunification. That could also be he said, because of “inappropriate signals” coming from Germany regarding the implementation of Greek austerity measures.

The central German state of Hesse is also prepared to send in volunteers, the state’s Finance Minister Thomas Schäfer of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) said.

“In helping Greece, we should also entertain the idea of bringing in retired tax collectors, because considerable practical experience could be used here,” he told WirtschaftsWoche.

In January, the Greek government released a 170-page list of 4,000 tax evaders, who owe the state approximately €15 billion. The Greek government under Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has announced that it will be seriously pursuing tax evaders.

WirtschaftsWoche reported that, according to confidential report of the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation, the Greek government has €63 billion in claims against its largest tax evaders.

DPA/The Local/mbw

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