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“Once my taxes are paid, at the end of the day I have 20 or 25 euros left in my pocket,” lamented Greek hairdresser Babis Toumbanos. Like him, there are many entrepreneurs in the country who want the new conservative government that emerged from the July 7 general election to relieve the heavy tax burden of recent years. Incoming Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis inherits an economy saddled with taxes applied in the last decade – including a previous government which he was part of – to refloat the country’s public finances in the middle of the debt crisis.

Mitsotakis has promised a “rebirth of the middle class”, which was squeezed by increases in VAT and income taxes, as well as the imposition during the crisis of a new heavy tax on real estate. The conservative leader announced that at the end of July his government will present a bill to lower these taxes, as well as the corporate tax rate from the current 28 percent to 20 percent. Tax relief has been a mantra for Greek small and medium-sized businesses for years. “For all Greek companies, during these years, the problem has been taxes,” said Elena Kouretsi, sales manager at Vitamin Bar, a company that patents juicers in a dozen countries.

“Even if you have work, production and sales, in the end eighty percent of your income is gone,” said the 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that she is hopeful that the new government will show “understanding” to entrepreneurship. Vasilis Maselos, president of the Greek ready-to-wear association (SEPEE), said he believes that Mitsotakis “has promised reasonable things”.
However, he warned that “the problems are immense”, starting with a technologically backward government administration. This businessman, who sells swimsuits and nightgowns in Japan, said the volume of business in textiles is 50 percent below the level in 2008, before the global and Greece’s own economic crisis struck. “People only buy what is essential, and sometimes not even that,” he said.

State statistics put Greeks’ purchasing power at one-third lower than the EU average. But “if we grow three or four percent per year – compared to 2.1 percent projected this year by the European Commission – in five or six years can recover much of the lost ground,” he added. It is a hope shared by civil engineer Kostas Kyriazis, still active at 68 years old. During the crisis, his small office lost up to 60 percent of its revenue.

But since the end of 2018, they have observed “a small growth”, mostly from renovations and apartment refurbishments linked to Airbnb rentals. “There are many opportunities in Greece,” particularly in tourism, he told AFP.

Panayotis Petrakis, professor of finance at the University of Athens, calculates Greece will not return to pre-crisis prosperity levels until 2025. Available income “has been rising very slowly for two years, at a rate of about 150 euros per head. It will continue to rise, the question is at what speed,” Petrakis told AFP.

KP Minister for Finance, Taimur Saleem Jhagra, has said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would utilize the experiences and reforms of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for increase in revenue, further tuning of the tax system and guaranteeing socio-economic uplift in the province.

He expressed these views during a meeting with the Chairman, FBR Shabar Zaidi along with the authorities of KP Revenue Authority (KPRA) in Islamabad. Senior authorities of the FBR and KPRA were also present on the occasion.

During the meeting they discussed in detail steps taken for increase in revenue at federal and provincial level, further activation of the tax system by the both tiers of governments.

The KP Finance Minister said that the present federal government has selected professional and experts personalities for running the affairs of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the FBR and Finance Ministry. Under the leadership of these personalities, the institutions are not only progressing towards economic uplift and stability and right direction.

The steps and reforms initiated by these professional heads have also removed years old faults and weaknesses on permanent basis. One of such experts also include the economic expert like Shabar Zaidi, who is taking highly professional steps for the achievement of the tax targets and facing of challenges faced in these regards.The KP finance minister said that in Pakistan decisions were always taken on paper level while practically they were never implemented and such decisions were usually becoming the victims of red-taps. He said that now these traditions have become inevitable and now provinces and FBR beside taking practical steps for simplifying and bringing transparency in tax depositing system and promotion of cordial relations with business community.

Taimur Saleem Jhagra further stressed need for taking several steps for enhancement of consensus and harmony between centre and provinces. He said that for guaranteeing rights to the provinces and their inclusion in policy making, the distribution of resources on judicious basis and resolution of years long outstanding matters among the centre and provinces are also necessary to enable federation as well as provinces to work for the welfare and socio-economic uplift of the people on equal basis. On this occasion, the Chairman, FBR Shabar Zaidi while agreeing with the recommendations of the provincial minister assured him full cooperation for the economic stability and uplift and expressed the hope that the KP government will continue reforms process for making tax system effective and achievement of the targets of economic growth.