From the coming Monday, 14 regional divisions and departments of the General Customs and Excise Department in Greece will be closed. By decision of the Minister of Finance Evangelos Venizelos, their obligations will unite and move to the head office of the department. Changes will occur in all customs control’s 50 units in the country. Many of them will be closed or merged, and their competences - directed at a central level.
The customs map of Greece will change the day the heads of the financial Troika are expected to arrive in Athens. All this is because the Ministry of Finance, which is quite aware of how much it delayed the reforms in its units, wants to prove in practice that it fulfills its promises to reduce the number of subdivisions, "due to a reduction of staff and workload."
At the same time, the project of the Ministry for the significant reduction in the number of tax offices across the country is almost finished. There will remain only 75 from the 288 tax offices operating today. Of these, 20 will be in Attica, 6 in Thessaloniki, while the remaining 49 tax offices will be scattered throughout Greece - one in each district. A "supreme head office" will be established in Athens, which will be responsible for the inspections of the 1000 largest taxpayers. The tax department for ships as well as for the Greeks abroad will be retained, which could take control of offshore companies too.
Following the reform, the employees in the tax departments to be merged or closed will be moved to new offices and control centres. The Ministry estimated that over two thousand employees will be added in this way to the staff of departments of control and compulsory collection of taxes. Tax officials themselves would therefore act as controllers, which will be able to apply directly the statutory procedures for compulsory collection of income from irregular taxpayers.
Moreover, tax departments will cut the issuance of tax documents to taxpayers who will be able to require them from the service centres. All procedures relating to the filing of tax returns and issuing of certificates and assurances will be discontinued, and the citizens will be able to receive them electronically. Payment of various government fees and taxes will be done through commercial banks.
Today was announced the reform of the Greek Radio Television ERT. The plan includes the closure of one of the main channels ET1, the merger of peripheral television stations and the reduction of staff in order to save at least € 8.3 million next year.
In particular, channel NET and ET3 with headquarters in Thessaloniki will continue to operate. The digital channels CINE and SPORTS will be closed along with ET1 and the 19 peripheral stations will be merged into 9 and Radiotileorasi magazine will not be published any longer. The frequencies of the specific channels will not be sold and will continue to be owned by ERT. The staff reduction will be achieved through retiring of employees and non-renewal of expiring temporary contracts. Evaluation of the overall staff is also planned.
The Government also intends to utilize the property of the state television. The huge property in Perea near Thessaloniki will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance and the complex of buildings, which house ET1, will be provided to government agencies for a token rent.
State media will receive € 48 million for the period 2011-2014, of which € 38 million will be in the form of investments in digital technology. At the same time, the stake will be reduced in order ERT to raise profits in 2012 and pay taxes to the state.
The government also plans to improve the program quality of the state television. The digital PRISMA TV will be targeted primarily to disabled persons and it will have to improve its program through cooperation with private televisions. ERT World, which focuses mainly on Greeks abroad, is also expected to improve its program. Children's programs, quality Greek productions, documentaries and studio shows are part of the envisaged changes.
The optical-acoustical institute will be closed within the cuts as well as the optical-acoustical archives and their activities will be redirected to ERT’s museums and archives department. This measure is estimated to save € 1.2 million.
The three radio stations in Thessaloniki will be merged into one. 15 of 20 medium-wave transmitters will also be removed. ERT will provide 1.5 per cent of the state tax paid by citizens in support of the Greek cinema, and a special committee will be formed for this purpose. There also will be limit of the value of foreign productions.