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Greek lawmakers pass controversial property tax
  Hedgeweb - WED, SEP 28 2011
News The Greek parliament has approved a controversial property tax that aims to plug a budget hole and help unlock bailout funds needed to prevent the country from defaulting.

The tax has sparked outrage as 70 per cent of Greeks own their homes.

Greece, under pressure from its international creditors to plug a budget gap of more than ?2bn, earlier this month announced the tax of up to ?16 per square metre.

To help ensure collection, the tax is to be collected by power companies on their bills to clients, with electricity to be shut off for those who refuse to pay.

The finance ministry said this week that Greeks have ?400bn invested in property, roughly the size of the nation's sovereign debt which is more than ?350bn.

It has estimated the tax is only 0.2pc of the real value of property and was "a completely tolerable burden".

"The important thing is to meet the 2011 and 2012 budgetary targets," Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told the parliament ahead of the vote.

More than a thousand members of the protest group calling themselves the 'indignants' protested outside parliament and tried to breach a police cordon in front of the entrance.

Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, arresting one, a source said.

The long-term unemployed will be exempt from the tax, so long as their family income is less than ?12,000 a year and the value of their property does not exceed ?150,000.

The finance ministry has also said the tax would not apply to state offices, embassies, religious buildings, monasteries, non-profit organisations, charities and amateur sports clubs.

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