It’s always the easy and vulnerable target that pays the price. It’s always the weak and defenseless who gets to feel the rigid face of the law. Whether it’s called “austerity”, “state revenues”, “fill the state pockets”, “pay back lenders” or generalized “structural reforms”.
In Iraklio, Crete, the easy target was a father of seven children, without a job. And a unemployed wife as well. The man was arrested at his home and taken to local police station for a dept to the state. For owing the state the …swirling amount of 5,000 euro. According to local media, the debt comes from unpaid social contributions to Labour Authority (OAEE).
And this in times when tax evasion mutates to a national sport, tax-dodgers owing the state million of euro walk around free and the state shows unable unable to get the notorious Greek diseases under control due to lack of political will.
But a recent law to enforce tax revenues dictates that those owing the state more than 5,000 euro can go to jail. As it is difficult to catch the big shark, the revenues hunters chose a tiny achovy. Why bother with a shark, possible with important connections and enough money to pay a bailout? Why bother and possibly get into trouble?
Handcuffs for a jobless father of 7 for owing the state €5,000
It all started a year ago, when Minas Hatzidakis decided to put “padlock” to his private security company, he had established in 2008. Due to the economic crisis Hatzidakis was unable to bear the costs and keep his company going. He closed down the company that left the family will debts.
Hatzidakis and his family managed to survive due to financial aid by his colleagues and friends from the Labour centre of Iraklio.
On Tuesday night, an unpleasant surprise: Security officers paid a visit to Hatzidakis home politely stressing ” You either pay your debts to the state or you go to jail.”
Speaking to Proto Thema, Hatzidakis said, he was unable to pay his debts to the state for one simple reason: he has no money.
“I do not have the money to give to the State. I am a law abiding citizen, but I fail to pay off my debts, as I am unemployed. The company I had left only debts. My wife and I are unemployed. There is no money even to buy basic goods. Where can I find 5,000 euros for the taxes?”
Hatzidakis spoke to PrTh while he was at the court to hear the verdict.
Socratis Vardakis, chairman of the Labour Centre of Iraklio, proposed that the prosecutor integrates the debtor into community service programmes of the municipality so that Hatzidakis can earn money and pay his debts.
Municipalities in times of austerity offer part-time jobs or temporary contracts of up to 8 months for maximum 700-800 euro gross.
Where Hatzidakis’ family would find money for food and other basic needs…. that’s another story. Charity by friends.
Local media (see link above) report that Hatzidakis is also member of a civic solidarity movement and that the locals try to find a solution his legal problems exploring all possibilities.
UPDATE: The prosecutor accepted the locals’ proposals and Hatzidakis will work 380 hours in total (4 hours/day) at the municipality. he will not receive salary but the municipality will direct the money to the state registers. He will start working at the beginning of September.
You may be interested to read also KTG’s article: Greek Public & Private Sector – Corruption, Tax Evasion & Impunity Alive and Kicking