Greece’s seven reforms list to be considered by Eurogroup on Monday
According to the list, the reforms being put forward relate to:
1. Activation of a Fiscal Council, aimed at saving resources and expanding its mission
2. Reforms aimed at the better drafting of the Budget and reforming the Budget Organic Law
3. Setting up a flexible body for targeted tax inspections to tackle tax evasion.
4. Improvements in the legislation for the settlement of overdue debts
5. Direct flow of public revenues through the regulation of the licensing framework for online gambling
6. Cut down on bureaucracy and improve the business climate by improving public services
7. Measures to address the humanitarian crisis
The letter with the list of reforms to be discussed at the Eurogroup meeting was sent by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to the Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, according to EU sources.
Clarifying the Greek proposals, government sources said the letter proposed the start of higher-level discussions with the institutions concerning “a follow-up arrangement” for Greece, which they said should take the form of a “Contract for Recovery and Growth of the Greek Economy”. In his letter, Varoufakis said that talks between the institutions and Greece must begin so that the specific reforms will be a first “batch” of measures ahead of the completion of the agreement in April.
The sources also released further details about the seven proposed reforms in Varoufakis’ 11-page letter, such as the innovative suggestion for enlisting “casual onlookers” as temporary tax inspectors, to assist in the fight against tax evasion.
Regarding the Fiscal Council, they said its remit would be to act as an independent watchdog that will help counter any tendency to generate a primary deficit. For this purpose, it must have the capacity to prepare macroeconomic projections about the budget and monitor the implementation of fiscal programmes, checking whether fiscal targets are being met, while contributing and guiding public debate on fiscal policy. The sources said the government’s aim was to merge the ‘Fiscal Council’ with the existing state budget office in Parliament, as well as link it with the Centre of Planning and Economic Research.
The second set of reforms relating to the drafting of the budget will seek to set upper limits that will help ensure that budget targets are adhered to and will include an overhaul of budget organic law.
The third proposal calls for recruiting a body of “non-professional” tax inspectors from the general public, who may even be tourists, in order to police VAT evasion by businesses. These will be employed in large numbers on a strictly short-term, casual basis (no longer then two months and without any prospect of being rehired) and then, after some basic training, be sent to pose as customers on behalf of tax authorities, while wired for sound and video.
The fourth reform for overdue loans will comprise the measures unveiled by Alternate Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, while the fifth will seek to tap revenues from the “unexploited potential” of internet gambling, where the estimated volume of transactions in Greece exceeds three billion euros a year.
This will include selling licences to electronic gambling game providers, using European experience for strict electronic monitoring of the entire process, making improvements to Greek laws, from which the government expects to draw roughly 500 million euros a year.
Measures for cutting back bureaucracy will include laws forbidding state services from asking for copies of documents providing information that the state already possesses, in the same or another state service, cutting down on time currently wasted by individuals and businesses in order to supply documents required by the state.
The seventh proposals dealing with the humanitarian crisis includes the draft law that has been tabled in Parliament, which will cost an estimated 200.29 million euros. The government plans to offset this spending by reducing the operating costs and general expenditure of each ministry (estimated savings of 60.9 million euros) and the introduction of a new system for public tenders for each ministry, expected to generate savings of 140 million euros.