Greece urgently needs to reform and modernise its tax system, making it fairer, simpler and more friendly to businesses and entrepreneurs, main opposition New Democracy MP and shadow minister for growth Dora Bakoyannis said in an exclusive interview with Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) journalist Dimitris Harontakis.
In the interview published on Sunday, she also underlined that the country cannot afford a third failed round of negotiations or a repetition of the summer of 2015. ND was calling for early elections, she added, "because the country is sinking deeper with every passing day."
Asked whether ND´s stance was "compatible" with the current critical stage of negotiations with the creditors, when the government was struggling to conclude the 2nd review of the programme, Bakoyannis pointed out that the review should have ended a year ago.
"This delay, as with the previous ones, burdens Greek citizens all the more," she said, noting that the never-ending negotiations and government "posturing" have cost Greece an unnecessary third memorandum and measures amounting to eight billion euros the first time, then a ´hyperfund´ binding state assets for 99 years and an ´automatic fiscal adjustment mechanism´ the second time. Greece could not afford a third such negotiation outcome, she added.
The country needed elections because the business climate was daily deteriorating, there could be no investments and growth and ordinary Greeks were unable to keep up with their obligations, she said.
Bakoyannis disagreed with the government´s forecasts for a return to growth, saying the economy was far from a sustainable recovery. "The marginal growth at the end of 2016 is to be expected, as a consequence of a ´normalisation´ of economic life after the economy´s collapse in 2015 and the imposition of capital controls," she pointed out.
"Achieving high rates of growth over many years, which the country urgently needs, requires structural reforms on a grand scale, to which the current government is unfortunately allergic," she noted, pointing out that Greece has recently slipped five place in world competitiveness rankings.
Bakoyannis said Greece needs a national restructuring plan for a transition to a new production model, whose main basis will be to broaden the productive base, boost healthy and export-oriented enterprises, promote commercial goods and create a business-friendly environment.
Asked whether ND will be in a position to fulfil its pledge to cut taxes, even without the creditors´ consent if necessary, Bakoyannis said she was confident an ND government would be able to convince the creditors to agree by showing it takes reforms and privatisations seriously.
"It is, in any case, imperative to urgently change the current policy ´mix´ that puts emphasis on taxes rather than cutting public spending. It is a political choice burdened by ideological obsessions that acts as a deterrent to attracting investments, ignoring the global environment and conditions of tax competition in southern Europe," she pointed out, while promising that cuts would target "wasteful spending" and not the protection provided to weaker members of society.
She said ND has prepared a series of carefully planned reforms to modernise and simplify the tax system, which aim to improve the business environment, broaden the tax base and fight tax evasion. It also had reforms aimed at improving public administration, reforming the justice system and supporting the markets, she added.