The head of a state-run pension fund for self-employed professionals in the country, known by its Greek-language acronym of OAEE, reportedly told entrepreneurs and professionals protesting recently increased taxes and social security contributions to “move to Bulgaria” if they can’t cope.
The quip by state-appointed OAEE director Dimitris Tsakiris was reportedly made during his visit last week to the northern city of Florina, where he fielded a question by a man who asked what incentive remained for a professional when 80 percent of the latter's income went for taxes and social security contributions.
Tsakiris was in northern Greece to brief business groups over the last tax hikes which affect OAEE beneficiaries.
The report, which was carried by the Athens daily “Kathimerini”, said the leftist government-appointed director glibly replied that “if they consider it patriotic, they should take their family and go to Bulgaria”.
The cited destination, Bulgaria, has figured prominently in Greek business circles since the advent of the punishing economic crisis as the nearest location offering Greek firms and entrepreneurs a stable, low-tax, low-bureaucracy option to conduct business.
In later statements to Kathimerini, Tsakiris said his comment was “misinterpreted”, while adding that what he wanted to convey was the fact that Greek entrepreneurs’ acumen and inventiveness should not be exhausted on finding ways to avoid taxes and contributions, but rather in benefiting domestic economic growth.
He did not comment on the still pertinent figure of 80 percent, at the highest level, that is taken by the state from long-time self-employed professionals.