By Angelos Anastasiou
THE HOUSE Watchdog committee yesterday unanimously voted to ask the finance ministry for an updated list of the 100 largest debtors to the government in income tax, social insurance, and value-added tax.
In addition, the committee asked the ministry to disclose the list of all grants over a specified amount to bodies or other private parties for each ministry – a list the finance ministry pledged to deliver within a month.
Meanwhile, the 2014 Fiscal Report recorded a €488 million surplus – the first in six years – from operations and investments.
Speaking after yesterday’s session, committee chairman Giorgos Georgiou said the law calls for the disclosure of writedowns of debt to the government over €1,000, the grants given by financial bodies and special funds, as well as the names of debtors to the government in arrears over a year.
“Transforming the deficit recorded in 2013 from operations and investments to a surplus in 2014 arises mainly from lower reimbursements and legal expenses relating to the €299 million compensation paid in 2013 to provident funds that suffered a haircut on their bank deposits, reduced social benefits, and increased revenues from indirect taxation,” he said.
Itemising revenues, Georgiou said the government received €252 million from the sale of goods and services, €125 million in European Union grants, €181 million in dividends from the Central Bank, and €40 million airport administration rights.
Public-law organisations also contributed €56 million to state coffers in 2014, with the Cyprus
Telecommunications Authority chipping in €31 million and the Cyprus Ports Authority €25 million.
AKEL deputy Stavros Evagorou was critical of the government’s expenditure-slashing policy which accounted for the surplus, arguing that the government’s austerity policy is a dead-end that will not lead to growth.
“When a country is in a protracted recession for a few years, growth and the social state should be spurred,” he said.
“In our case, we record surpluses at the expense of economic growth and the public, since social expenditure is slashed.”
With regard to €408 million owed by the state for land expropriations, Evagorou welcomed the creation of an administrative committee aiming to offset what the government owes individual citizens against what they owe the government, or return expropriated land that has not been utilised.
He added that the amount owed by the Taxation Department as VAT returns – €117 million – should be returned to citizens and companies urgently, as it is owed to struggling small and medium enterprises by a long margin.