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More Austerity for the Greeks: Parliament Approves Reforms

©Hellenic Parliament, Aliki Eleftheriou

A highly debated omnibus bill was passed in Greek parliament amid protests late on Thursday, a requirement set by Greece’s international lenders in order to proceed with the conclusion of negotiations and the release of some 6 billion euros in aid.

The contentious bill, which includes among others stringent austerity measures in the next three years, such as further pension cuts, a lower income tax threshold, the taxation of Airbnb-style leases, the sole use of credit cards, and the opening of shops on Sundays, will go into effect in 2019-2020.

Main measures include:

-a reduction of income tax exemption to 5,600-5,700 euros from 8,600 euros set to generate revenues of about 1.9 billion euros, according to Reuters

-selling off stakes in railways, Athens International Airport, Hellenic Petroleum, Thessaloniki port, and real estate assets, set to bring in revenue of 2.15 billion euros in 2017 and 2.07 billion euros in 2018

-a 15-45 percent tax on annual income earned from the short-term lease of property for tourism accommodation purposes, the provision applies to all individuals making profits from renting out their properties within the sharing economy and will apply starting January 1, 2017 as follows: 15 percent for gains of up to 12,000 euros, 35 percent for incomes between 12,001 and 35,000 euros, and 45 percent for those exceeding 35,000 euros, provided the properties are rented out furnished without additional services other than bed linen

-shops in Athens, the historic center of Thessaloniki, a section of the Piraeus port commercial area, along the Kallithea, Palaio Faliro, Alimos, Elliniko and Glyfada coastal front and at Athens International Airport can remain open on all Sundays between May and October

-the reopening of the tourism ministry’s tour guide studies department.

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