Daily Management Review

Reports of plans hatched for a system of shadow taxation puts pressure on Tsipras


Having halted Greece from sliding into bankruptcy and financial chaos, Alexis Tsipras then went about kick-starting the painful bail out process and revive the economy. Reports are now leaking out as to how his own party members tried to sabotage these processes.

According to reports that goes to highlight the challenges faced by Alexis Tsipras from his inside his own Syriza party, some members of the party, had wanted to raid central bank reserves and hack taxpayers accounts so as to return to the drachma.
The plans were attributed to the former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis who were earlier sacked earlier this month for their rebellion. The report of these plans have also reached members of the opposition and they have demanded an explanation. It is yet unclear, as to how serious were the two when they hatched these plans.
The reports which fevered speculation, can be viewed as an alternative to the European Union’s bailout plans which Tsipras reluctantly agreed so that Greece remains part of the European Union and keep the euro as its currency.
Almost one fourth of the Syriza party’s 149 lawmakers rebelled against sweeping austerity measures which Tsipras struggled to accept in order to keep Greece falling into bankruptcy. It has also enabled the inflow of 86 billion euros, in fresh loans, which are designed to keep Greece’s financial systems in place and running smoothly.
In an interview that appeared in the RealNews daily, Panagiotis Lafazanis, the former energy minister who was sacked, said that he had urged the government to tap the reserves of the Bank of Greece and defy the European Central Bank.
Mr. Lafazanis is a leader of the hardline faction in the Syriza party and has often argued for a return to the drachma. He opined that this move would have allowed wages and pensions to be paid for employees working in the public sector, in the event that Greece opted out of the European Union.
"The main reason for that was for the Greek economy and Greek people to survive, which is the utmost duty every government has under the constitution," said the sacked energy Minister.
He however went on the defensive when the Financial Times said he had wanted the Greece Governor, Yannis Stouranaras, arrested if he opposed this move. He called this report a mixture of "lies, fantasy, fear-mongering, speculation and old-fashioned anti-communism".
In yet another report that highlights the state of affairs in the Syriza party, Varoufakis was quoted as saying that a small team in the Syriza had secretly drafted plans on copying online tax codes, which would have been introduced when the banking sector went kaput. It was a "Plan B".
As per Mr. Varoufakis, passwords used by Greeks to access their online tax accounts would have been secretly copied and used in order to issue new PIN numbers for taxpayers, which were to be used for transactions with the state.
"This would have created a parallel banking system, which would have given us some breathing space, while the banks would have been shut due to the ECB's aggressive policy," Varoufakis was quoted as saying.
Varoufakis, an academic economist was earlier sacked from his five months tenure in office, so as to facilitate bailout talks. Since then he has been even more vocal and rebellious than before.
Varoufakis denied the report on Twitter saying, "So, I was going to "hijack" Greek citizens' tax file numbers? Impressed by my defamers' imagination."
Parties which backed Tsipras, are now demanding a response from the government concerning the reports.
"The revelations that are coming out raise a major political, economic and moral issue for the government which needs in-depth examination," read a statement from the centre-right New Democratic party.
It went on to say, "Is it true that a designated team in the finance ministry had undertaken work on a backup plan? Is it true they had planned to raid the national Mint and that they prepared for a parallel currency by hacking the tax registration numbers of the taxpayers?"
As per reports, although Varoufakis and another official responsible for information systems planned on copying taxpayer codes from online accounts and set up a shadow system, it however did not go operational since the plans had not been approved by Tsipras.
Dimitris Mardas, the Deputy Finance Minister denied the government had ever discussed plans to take Greece out of the euro.
"I have repeatedly said that such discussions have never taken place at a government policy level," he told Skai television.
Source: Reuters.com