Far-left Greek government plans to use undercover inspectors and online gambling to boost tax revenues

Yanis Varoufakis greeceREUTERS/Yves HermanGreek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis holds a news conference after an extraordinary euro zone Finance Ministers meeting (Eurogroup) in Brussels February 20, 2015.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has outlined seven key reform proposals ahead of a crucial Eurogroup meeting on Monday to decide whether the country is meeting the conditions for its next bailout instalment.

In the 11-page letter to Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurogroup, leaked to the Financial Times Varoufakis reveals plans for the Greek government to hire mystery-shoppers “‘wired’ for sound and video” to help collect evidence against tax evaders and raises the possibility of selling licenses to online gambling companies to operate in the country.

The reforms envisage hiring “students, housekeepers and tourists” on short term contracts, training them in the art of subterfuge and then sending them out into “areas ripe with tax evasion” to catch perpetrators in the act. Any evidence gathered by the undercover tax agents will then be available to authorities when it comes to issue penalties and sanctions.

Perhaps more unusually for a government led by the radical left Syriza coalition, Varoufakis also discusses raising revenue through selling gambling licenses to online gaming providers. He envisages each 5-year contract would cost around €3 million, with the value of tax revenues from online gambling estimated to be worth around €500 million a year to the state.

The letter also provides further details on the creation of a “Fiscal Council” similar to the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility, which acts as a watchdog for public spending plans, and new law designed to improve the collection of outstanding tax debts owed to the state.

Without a deal Greece risks running out of money to pay its bills within weeks. Greece is due to repay around €1.5 billion to the IMF over the next two weeks but has seen tax revenues fall sharply over the past few months. It also has running costs of around €4.5 billion including a wage and pension bill of €1.5 billion, according to Reuters.

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