Feb 19 - The Greek government is planning tighter monitoring of farmers income after a study suggested they're among the worst tax evaders. As Hayley Platt reports the allegations have provoked a furious response.
Tackling tax evaders has been a key aim of the Greek government And according to the Foundation of Economic Research farmers are among the worst offenders. Its latest survey shows that 99% of people who make a living from agriculture claim they earn less than 10,000 euro a year. The government is now planning to impose tax monitoring and land levies on farmers. And that's provoked an angry backlash. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) FARMER FROM CRETE EFTIKIS MAKRIMANOLAKIS SAYING: "They want to tax our land, the land where we have buried the bones of our ancestors, who made 400 years of sacrifices to make this a modern nation. In just four years the government has destroyed it with bailouts and handed it over to our profiteering European Union partners!" (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) FARMER FROM NORTHERN GREECE STAVROS KARELLAS SAYING: "Those who believe that farmers are getting rich need to come and do our job, so they can see how impossible it is for a farmer to make the profits that the press claim we make." They came from across the country to protest in Athens - even from tiny islands - many bringing their families with them. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) FARMER FROM PATRAS KONSTANINOS YIAKOS, AGED 36, SAYING: "The government has made us targets, just because there are a few farmers evading taxes. We have all been put in the same basket." On the economic front things are looking a little brighter in Greece. Foreigners have spent record amounts in response to slashed prices in the tourism industry. And the country has just achieved its first current account surplus since records began in 1948. Economists expect a repeat this year. But say it doesn't mean Greece has done enough to build a competitive export-driven economy. Tackling issues like tax and corruption are still important too - however much farmers don't like it.