The vicious cycle continues. Greece needs more money— fast. It has €3.6 billion in loan payments to European creditors that are due in July.
And in order to get the money from the creditors, in order to turn around and repay the same creditors (with interest), the creditors were demanding more reforms, more austerity and more taxes.
Caught in the middle of the vicious cycle is the leftist Syriza ruling party of prime minister Alexis Tsipras whose parliament won a mandate over a year ago, promising to stop austerity and implement measures to return the country to growth and lower the crippling unemployment rate that has forced hundreds of thousands of young people to flee the country.
Tsipras pushed through a new round of taxes and austerity, targeted mainly to the average Greek citizen, last night in a heated parliamentary session.
The new taxes include a whopping 20% on coffee and new levies on top of existing levies on fuel, tobacco, electronic cigarettes, alcohol, the internet, pay television, telephone service, hotel stays, cars, property taxes, as well as a rise in the value-added tax (VAT) rate, applied to most goods and services to 24%— the highest in the eurozone.
And tourism— Greece’s most important industry, is not immune to the new taxes. A single overnight stay at any hotel with three or more stars will be taxed an additional €2-€4 and a new tax on rooms for rent— the ubiquitous pension, has been introduced.
The VAT discount that once applied to holiday destinations has also been abolished.
This is the fifth time since the beginning of Greece’s debt crisis seven years ago that taxes have been added on everyday goods and services used by most citizens and necessary public utilities.
About 10,000 people stood outside the Parliament in Athens during the vote wondering just how much more they could endure. The new taxes come after earlier rounds of measures that were voted by the parliament several months ago slashing benefits, pensions and salaries.