ATHENS Dec 20 Greek riot police fought a group
of Athens businessmen who tried to prevent a tax inspection on
their shops, officials said on Thursday, highlighting the
resistance the government faces in cracking down on the
country's endemic tax evasion.
Four policemen were hospitalised with minor injuries after a
group of about 50 protesters threw stones, set fire to garbage
bins and hurled two firebombs at them in the rundown Athens
suburb of Agia Varvara, a police official said.
"One officer was hit by a stone next to his right eye," said
the official who declined to be named. No one was arrested.
Tax officials conducted the raid after tip offs that shops
in the area were selling clothes and accessories without giving
receipts or were shifting counterfeit products.
The incident was the second time since August police have
intervened between angry shopkeepers and tax officials.
Tax evasion has been partly blamed for the financial woes
that have led Greece to two international bailouts since 2010.
Greek tax officials are under pressure to perform after
international lenders told Athens it needs to improve its
inefficient tax administration to receive further bailout funds.
The government said on Thursday it would replace several
heads of local tax offices who did not meet their revenue
But efforts to crack down on tax evasion have produced few
results so far. Revenues have been trailing targets amid the
country's severe, austerity-fuelled recession.
Successive tax increases and wage cuts as part of the
country's bailout have frustrated households and small
entrepreneurs are complaining that nothing is done to uncover
alleged corruption cases between big business and politicians.
(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Sophie Hares)