It is not a secret that under the bailout agreements, Greece’s self-employed are charged with higher taxes and social security contributions each and every year. As KeepTalkingGreece.com details, many, especially from northern Greece, have moved their business basis to neighboring Bulgaria for obvious reasons: 10% tax instead of 29%, low social security contributions, incentives. There is talk that 60,000 businesses have moved in the last seven years of austerity.
No wonder that self-employed and freelancers complain about taxation, contributions and cut pensions, no wonder they are furious about the social security contributions hikes that come with the new year.
When Dimitris Tsakiris, governor of Greece’s Self-employed Fund (OAEE), visited Florina and Veria in Northern Greece in order to inform local communities about the upcoming hikes, it was clear that the meeting with self-employed and OAEE-pensioners would turn …explosive.
Tsakiris was appointed governor of OAEE in October 2015. Debts to OAEE are approximately half a billion euro.
Not much is known about his background except that his CV was very poor, “just 11 lines” as New Democracy pointed out at that time.
He was appointed with the votes of SYRIZA, Independent Greeks and Centrists’ Union.
The locals complained that 80% of their turnover will go to the state in form of taxes and contributions.
Apparently Tsakiris had no other idea than to urge them to grab alternative solutions.
“Everyone who fails to pay contributions and considers it patriotic should go to Bulgaria and take his family with him.”
Speaking to daily Kathimerini, Tsakiris said later that his statement was “misinterpreted.”
He claimed, he wanted to demonstrate that Greeks’ vividness and originality should not be exhausted in ways of tax evasion and contribution avoidance but used for the development of the domestic economy.
While Tsakiris’ statement triggered an outrage, the best comment came from SYRIZA MP, Nikos Manios who urged him “to go to Bulgaria and become a governor there.” Manios added that this is not a way to answer to concerned citizens and that dialogue should take place.